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Panthers ‘hopeful’ Gudbranson returns Monday

Jan 5, 2014, 3:14 PM EDT

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The Florida Panthers have high hopes that defenseman Erik Gudbranson will return to their lineup as soon as Monday.

George Richards of the Miami Herald hears from Panthers coach Peter Horachek about the big blue-liner’s status.

“We’re hopeful he could play on this trip, as early as Monday,” Horachek said. “He’ll have to wear the cage because of the surgery. You can’t risk a direct hit.”

Gudbranson has been out with an orbital bone injury and will wear a cage on his helmet when he returns. He last played on December 20 against Winnipeg and has missed five games. The Panthers have gone 2-2-1 in his absence.

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