The Panthers will be without their top defenseman through the weekend. George Richards of The Athletic notes (Twitter link) that Aaron Ekblad will miss at least the next two games with what is believed to be a shoulder injury. The good news for Florida is that he shouldn’t be out much longer as Richards adds that he could be back at some point during their upcoming four-game road trip. Ekblad is logging over 23 minutes per game for the third straight season while being on pace for a new career high in points.
Elsewhere in the East:
- Senators winger Bobby Ryan has returned to Ottawa and has resumed skating, reports Postmedia’s Ken Warren. He has been away from the team since entering the NHL/NHLPA Assistance Program on November 20th. When asked about when the veteran might return to the lineup, head coach D.J. Smith indicated that there’s no immediate timetable for his return and that they’ll provide an update when Ryan is closer to being ready to come back.
- Red Wings goaltender Jonathan Bernier could be ready to return on Sunday, the team announced (Twitter link). He is dealing with a groin injury that caused him to miss last Sunday’s game but it doesn’t appear as if it will hold him out for long. Once he’s cleared to return, Calvin Pickard will return to AHL Grand Rapids.
- The Penguins are set to get some good news on the injury front as the team announced that they will activate winger Patric Hornqvist off IR in advance of tonight’s game against Nashville. The veteran had missed the past ten games due to a lower-body injury. Winger Thomas Di Pauli has been returned to AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to make room on the roster. Meanwhile, Mike DeFabo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes that forward Nick Bjugstad skated for the first time after sustaining a core muscle injury more than a month ago. He’s still likely a few weeks away from returning though.