Ekblad out two more games — including tonight’s grudge match versus Hendricks, Oilers

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The stage is set for tonight’s Oilers-Panthers game at BB&T.

Yes, it seems weird hyping a Monday nighter between Florida and Edmonton, hardly the fiercest of rivals, but this one is different — today, the Panthers ruled out star defenseman Aaron Ekblad for another two games, as he continues to deal with the ramifications from a hit from Edmonton forward Matt Hendricks.

Hendricks, of course, is eligible to return tonight… from his three-game suspension for boarding Ekblad.

It’ll be interesting to see how Florida handles the situation. The club is in a bit of a funk, having followed up its impressive 12-game winning streak with a three-game losing skid, during which it’s only managed to score three goals.

There’s a chance head coach Gerard Gallant — who, as the above video shows, was livid with Hendricks’ hit — instructs his players to focus on the game, the two points at stake, and all those other terrific cliches.

But it’s hard to see the Panthers not engaging the Oilers and/or Hendricks at some point.

Shawn Thornton is confirmed to be playing tonight, per play-by-play man Steve Goldstein. He leads the team in fights this year, with four, trailed by fellow forwards Derek McKenzie and Alex Petrovic.

Petrovic, it should be noted, is one of two Panthers that fought Hendricks in game Ekblad got hurt. Logan Shaw was the other.