Panthers’ Kovalev a healthy scratch tonight vs. Flyers

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Veteran forward Alexei Kovalev will be a healthy scratch for the Panthers tonight in Philadelphia, according to George Richards of the Miami Herald.

Kovalev, who turns 40 in two weeks, has been mired in a funk since posting a one-goal, two-assist effort in Florida’s 5-1 season-opening victory against Carolina.

The Russian winger has just one point — a goal against Winnipeg — in eight games since and has posted a minus-4 rating over that time.

Slumping aside, it’s curious to note that head coach Kevin Dineen was still using Kovalev extensively over the last two weeks.

He played a season-high 21:22 in a loss to Ottawa on Jan. 24 and, in a 4-3 win over Buffalo on Sunday, played 17:33 — the only forwards to receive more ice time were Tomas Fleischmann and Stephen Weiss.

In other Panthers news, Richards reports tonight could be the regular season debut for defenseman Erik Gudbranson, who has been sidelined with a shoulder injury.

If Gudbranson can go, sounds like Keaton Ellerby will likely draw out of the lineup.