Another day, another Florida defenseman down.
Just a few days after losing Ed Jovanovski to a broken hand, the Panthers learned they’d be without the services of blueliner Dmitry Kulikov for 6-8 weeks after the 21-year-old underwent knee surgery.
Kulikov injured his knee during Saturday’s win over Winnipeg but continued to play through it, logging over 22 minutes in the 4-3 shootout victory.
The loss is huge for the Panthers as the former first-round pick had emerged as a top-flight blueliner. Kulikov is second on the team in defenseman scoring while averaging over 22 minutes per night, leading all Florida rearguards in hits (83).
With Kulikov and Jovanovski out for the foreseeable future, the Panthers will now roll with a defensive unit of Brian Campbell, Jason Garrison, Mike Weaver, Erik Gudbranson, Keaton Ellerby and Tyson Strachan, who was recently recalled from AHL San Antonio.
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.