Bjugstad’s tough season continues with another trip to injured reserve

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The Florida Panthers are going to be without forward Nick Bjugstad once again.

He was forced to leave Friday’s game against the Nashville Predators with what is believed to be a lower body injury after playing only four minutes. On Saturday the team announced he has been placed on injured reserve. Along with that move the Panthers also called up goaltender Sam Brittain from the ECHL.

The Bjugstad news is especially disappointing — for both him and the Panthers — because it has been such a tough season for the young forward. He has already missed 19 games this season due to a hand injury, and in the 21 games he has played has not really been much of a factor offensively with only two points (one goal, one assist). This comes after he scored 15 goals in only 67 games a year ago and looked to be part of an impressive young core of players that were going to help the Panthers take the next step in their development. None of that has happened this season with injuries to Jonathan Huberdeau (yet to play this season), Bjugstad (missed 19 games and counting) and Aleksander Barkov (missed four games) playing a big role in that.

Even after their win on Friday the Panthers remained two points behind Toronto for the third playoff spot in the Atlantic Division (while Toronto has two games in hand) and three points behind the Philadelphia Flyers for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. They have a huge game on Saturday night against another team they are chasing in the standings when they host the Boston Bruins.