Dec 3, 2013, 3:06 PM EDT
Florida head coach Peter Horachek made good on his threat Tuesday, making defenseman Dmitry Kulikov a healthy scratch after hinting the 23-year-old was on his way to the press box.
“Yeah,” Horachek replied when asked about dropping Kulikov from the lineup following a poor game on Saturday against Pittsburgh.
“I think we’re at that point.”
On Monday, Horachek backed off that proclamation, praising Kulikov’s talent while getting veteran defenseman Ed Jovanovski to work with the Russian rearguard.
But on Tuesday, Horachek followed through on his original statement and dropped Kulikov from the lineup for tonight’s affair against Ottawa. It’s the first game Kulikov will miss this season, a development that appears to have caught him off guard.
“I don’t think I was playing bad enough to get thrown out of the lineup, but it’s the coach’s decision,” he explained. “I was surprised.”
Given Florida’s position in the standings and GM Dale Tallon’s assertion that he’s open for business, it’s likely this decision will lead to speculation about Kulikov’s future.
The former first-round pick is averaging close to 20 minutes per night and is in the last of a two-year, $5 million extension. While talented, he appears to have regressed over the last two seasons after a tremendous sophomore campaign (26 points in 72 games) and third year (in which he scored a career-high 28 points in just 58 games, missing extensive time to knee surgery).
- It’s New Jersey Devils day on PHT 0
- Fanspeak: Bobby Orr named best Bruin in franchise history 25
- Video: Bruins participate in commercials to promote NHL 15 5
- Oilers ink Schultz to one-year deal 2
- It’s Boston Bruins day on PHT 41
- Fanspeak: Dominik Hasek voted greatest Sabre in franchise history 35
- Is Colorado’s rise a fair example of what might happen in Buffalo? 7
- It’s Buffalo Sabres day on PHT 19
- Gomez goes full circle by rejoining Devils on tryout basis 13
- Under Pressure: Jimmy Howard 6