James O'Brien

Aleksander Barkov

Panthers injury bits: Barkov may return soon, MRI coming for Kulikov

The Florida Panthers absorbed a good news – bad news injury situation on Sunday, though some might say that it’s a pretty bright update overall.

The good: Key forward Aleksander Barkov is expected to be back in the Panthers’ lineup, according to George Richards of the Miami Herald.

As you can see from that tweet, it looks like Barkov will return to his center spot between Jonathan Huberdeau and Jaromir Jagr, reuniting a trio that showed some impressive chemistry before both Barkov and Jagr dealt with issues of varying severity.

The bad: Defenseman Dmitry Kulikov‘s lower-body injury from Saturday looks like it might linger. He’s undergoing an MRI and is expected to miss about a week, also according to Richards.

That’s no fun, but this could be a solid situation if Kulikov’s issues aren’t that severe. Of course, in situations like these, future updates can turn a sunny situation cloudy.

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    Is it Reimer time in Toronto?


    Sometimes, the best runs in sports happen because a chosen player gets injured.

    The NFL may hold the most obvious examples: Drew Bledsoe making way for Tom Brady and Trent Green getting injured so Kurt Warner could conjure some magic.

    It’s way, way, waaaay too early to say that Jonathan Bernier‘s injury opened the same door for James Reimer, at least from a long-term standpoint.

    That said, the juicier question is: should that be the case?

    Don Cherry went out of his way to make an interesting point: management may want Bernier to be “the guy” instead of Reimer.

    This often happens with goalies, particularly in the case of a No. 1 who makes more money than his upstart backup. After all, a GM doesn’t want to look dumb in paying more for the lesser option, right?

    There’s an interesting wrinkle with Reimer: he’s been the stat-leaning choice for some time, or at least a stat-head darling (as some are still kind to Bernier while also elevating Reimer).

    Let’s be clear, though: Reimer’s recent play sure seems like it might force the issue.

    Reimer stopped 43 out of 45 shots to help Toronto beat Vancouver 4-2, giving him three straight wins. The Maple Leafs have generated at least a point in five straight games and a 4-1-2 mark in his last seven starts.

    That’s not a huge sample, although Reimer’s shown flashes of brilliance before. Can the Maple Leafs really afford to look the other way?

    (Of course, assuming that they want to win …)

    Hurricanes’ Ryan Murphy suffered a concussion

    Ryan Murphy

    Tough news from Carolina Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters on Sunday: defenseman Ryan Murphy is sidelined with a concussion.

    The Hurricanes believe that Murphy was injured thanks to a boarding hit by Ryan White of the Philadelphia Flyers last night. Murphy is considered day-to-day at the moment.

    (Video of that hit wasn’t immediately available.)

    Concussions have plagued Hurricanes players in the past, particularly Jeff Skinner.

    As Peters notes, Carolina’s defense is dealing with some health issues.

    “We’re banged up in our organization the back-end,” Peters said. “We’re not going to call anybody up until we need to. We’ve got six capable bodies, and we’ll play them.”

    That likely means some playing time for Michal Jordan (giggles).

    Stars demote Radek Faksa to the AHL

    Dmitry Kulikov, Radek Faksa

    The Dallas Stars sent Radek Faksa to the AHL on Sunday, one night after another impressive showing by Dallas.

    Granted, the impressive showings haven’t really come from Faksa himself.

    In 14 games this season, he’s been limited to a single goal and a single assist. Faksa hasn’t really torn up the AHL, either, so his development hasn’t been particularly rapid.

    The good news is that he has plenty of time to grow, as he’s just 21.

    It seems like it’s a matter of other Stars players getting healthier.

    Avalanche place Varlamov on IR; claim Wagner


    The Colorado Avalanche claimed Chris Wagner off of waivers from the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday.

    On paper, this seems like a pure depth move … but the Avs have their own “way of doing things,” so who knows. Perhaps he’ll make a bigger impact there than he did in Anaheim?

    In case you’re asking “Who?” here are a few quick facts.

    • Wagner failed to score a point in 11 games with the Ducks. His production has been pretty modest in the AHL.
    • He was a fifth-round pick (122nd overall) in 2010.
    • OK, that’s about it.

    So, there you go.

    Any other moves coming for Colorado? Matt Duchene and Tyson Barrie are names that are floating around, although each situation seems far fetched.

    Update: The Avalanche also placed Semyon Varlamov on IR, retroactive to Nov. 10.

    It’s unclear if how long he’ll be out, as that retroactive date means he wouldn’t need to miss much time. Theoretically.

    Then again, with Reto Berra on a tear, maybe they can take a slow-and-steady approach?