Florida head coach Peter Horachek made good on his threat Tuesday, making defenseman Dmitry Kulikov a healthy scratch after hinting the 23-year-old was on his way to the press box.
“Yeah,” Horachek replied when asked about dropping Kulikov from the lineup following a poor game on Saturday against Pittsburgh.
“I think we’re at that point.”
On Monday, Horachek backed off that proclamation, praising Kulikov’s talent while getting veteran defenseman Ed Jovanovski to work with the Russian rearguard.
But on Tuesday, Horachek followed through on his original statement and dropped Kulikov from the lineup for tonight’s affair against Ottawa. It’s the first game Kulikov will miss this season, a development that appears to have caught him off guard.
“I don’t think I was playing bad enough to get thrown out of the lineup, but it’s the coach’s decision,” he explained. “I was surprised.”
Given Florida’s position in the standings and GM Dale Tallon’s assertion that he’s open for business, it’s likely this decision will lead to speculation about Kulikov’s future.
The former first-round pick is averaging close to 20 minutes per night and is in the last of a two-year, $5 million extension. While talented, he appears to have regressed over the last two seasons after a tremendous sophomore campaign (26 points in 72 games) and third year (in which he scored a career-high 28 points in just 58 games, missing extensive time to knee surgery).
This hasn’t been the best night for St. Louis sports fans.
Obviously, the MLB’s Cardinals getting bounced from the playoffs is a bigger deal, but the Blues face bad news, too.
While they’re currently leading the Calgary Flames by a score of 4-3, they’ll need to hang on without Kevin Shattenkirk, whose night is over thanks to a lower-body injury.
There’s no word yet on how severe the issue might be.
Naturally, the Blues must hope that it’s minor, as Shattenkirk is one of the NHL’s truly underrated assets on the blueline.
Stephanie (@MyRegularFace) tracked down a moment when the injury may have happened:
It’s not all rosy for the Flames, either, as Lance Bouma suffered an injury as well.
In some ways, it really felt like their first-round series.
For all the talent on both ends of the rink with the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, each squad can really smother opponents defensively when things go that way.
Through two periods, the two teams were very quiet. Things really picked up when Justin Abdelkader unleashed a big hit, a moment that injected enough life into the proceedings for the Red Wings to eventually build a 3-1 win.
Maybe they’re slipping under the radar a bit compared to previous iterations of the team, but it’s interesting that the Red Wings are now undefeated in three games.
They’ve been impressive at times, too, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 11-4.
Call it a refreshing time after Mike Babcock or merely carryover from a subtly solid run last season, but either way, the Red Wings may just be able to keep up their end of a brewing rivalry.