Message sent or not via healthy scratches or not, Dave Bolland returns to the Florida Panthers mix on Tuesday.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, it’s maybe not under the most ideal circumstances, as part of the explanation for his return is Nick Bjugstad‘s absence.
The Miami Herald’s George Richards reports that Bjugstad is out tonight against the St. Louis Blues with an upper-body injury that he suffered during a Monday practice.
In fact, as you can see in the tweet above, the young forward was sent home because of the injury.
This forces some shuffling, with Vincent Trocheck moving up to the second line while Bolland centers the third combo as usual.
The Panthers are currently on a two-game winning streak and visit St. Louis as the second date in a five-game road trip.
This is also the early part of a span in which they play nine of 10 games on the road (counting Sunday’s away win), so a prolonged absence from Bjugstad could sting that much more.
It feels like there’s a story brewing in Florida, where Dave Bolland — the team’s most-expensive forward, at $5.5 million a season — has been a healthy scratch for three consecutive games.
But according to head coach Gerard Gallant, there’s nothing to see here. Move along.
“There’s nothing to talk about,” Gallant said, per the Miami Herald. “He sat out, our team is playing well. There’s nothing more than that. We have to sit two guys and I like the way we’re playing. The next game is a different game. We may change something up, who knows.”
Bolland had just one goal and five points in 18 games prior to getting parked in the press box. Well, technically he got dropped to the fourth line before hitting the press box, but you get the idea. He’s not exactly in Gallant’s good graces.
Not helping Bolland’s case is the fact that, as Gallant pointed out, the club is playing pretty well without him. The Panthers have rebounded from a rough start to November by winning back-to-back games against the Islanders and Red Wings, which set them up nicely for the remainder of this current five-game road swing.
Florida has games still to play in St. Louis, Nashville, Columbus and New Jersey. It’ll be interesting to see when — or, if — he draws back into the lineup.
In closing, a reminder that Bolland’s in the second of a five-year, $27.5 million deal.
Remember when Dave Bolland was a hot commodity on the free-agent market? It wasn’t that long ago, so you should.
To refresh your memory, the Maple Leafs wanted to keep him, but, ultimately, they couldn’t match the Panthers’ five-year, $27.5 million offer.
Bolland signed with Florida on July 1, 2014.
Tonight, he’ll be a healthy scratch versus the Kings.
Bolland played a season-low 10:58 in Saturday’s 5-4 overtime loss to the Rangers. The 29-year-old center has just one goal and four assists in 18 games. He’s also struggled at faceoffs, winning just 45.8 percent of the 275 draws he’s taken.
Oh, and against the Rangers, there was this:
The Tampa Bay Lightning already have their challenges, but what if Tyler Johnson misses some time?
That’s the troubling thought on Saturday night, as he appeared to be quite shaken up by a Dave Bolland hit, which you can watch in the video above.
There’s no update yet regarding whether he’ll miss the rest of tonight’s Lightning – Florida Panthers game, yet that seems like a reasonable bet.
The Panthers may have lost a noteworthy player of their own, as Dmitry Kulikov is done for the evening thanks to a lower-body injury.
Update: Good news, at least for the moment?
Florida will get one of its biggest free agent acquisitions back in the lineup tonight, as Dave Bolland will play for the first time since Oct. 17 when the Panthers take on the Blues.
Bolland, who’s missed the last 21 games with a groin strain, came to Florida this summer amid significant fanfare and signed a five-year, $27.5 million pact that made him the club’s highest-paid forward at $5.5 million per season.
The returns thus far, however, haven’t been great — Bolland’s only played in four games this season and has yet to record a point in a Panthers uniform. Florida has done remarkably well in his absence, however, going 10-5-6 and heading into tonight’s action just two points back of Toronto and Boston for fourth in the Atlantic Division.