Feb 1, 2014, 1:13 PM EST
The Florida Panthers have dropped three of their last four games, but should get some help for tonight’s contest against the Columbus Blue Jackets as forward Aleksander Barkov is projected to return, according to Steve Goldstein.
Barkov has missed four straight matches due to a knee injury. The 18-year-old rookie, who was taken with the second overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, has eight goals and 24 points in 50 contests this season. That makes him one of the Panthers’ top offensive threats, which really underscores just how bad a year it’s been for them.
Erik Gudbranson might also end up playing tonight. He’s spent three straight contests in the press box after coach Peter Horachek suggested that the 22-year-old defenseman has played poorly since he started wearing a full cage. Gudbranson has been forced to do so because he underwent orbital bone surgery in December.
Really, these changes mean more for the Blue Jackets than Florida itself. With a 21-26-7 record, the Panthers’ odds of making the playoffs are slim, but Columbus is still in a fierce battle for a postseason spot.
- Goalie nods: Luongo’s first game back with Panthers, Neuvrith makes Sabres debut 0
- Report: Kuznetsov terminated KHL deal, headed to Washington 17
- Canucks’ Bieksa: ‘If this isn’t rock bottom, I don’t know what is’ 33
- Luongo has Twitter fun at Canucks’ expense 33
- Sabres spoil Callahan’s Lightning debut, Stamkos’ return 7
- Dealing with the Devils: NHL reverses Kovalchuk punishment 47
- Playoff bubble watch — Rangers edition 14
- Video: Emotional day for Martin St. Louis ends in OT loss for Rangers 27
- Video: Caps, Flyers engage in another line brawl 53
- PHT’s 2014 Trade Deadline Tracker 28
- Canucks trade Luongo to Panthers (93)
- BLOCKBUSTER: Lightning trade St. Louis to Rangers for Callahan (82)
- Sabres send Miller, Ott to Blues for package including Halak, Stewart (74)
- Kings make splash, acquire Gaborik from Columbus (72)
- Report: Canucks want center, top prospect and first-rounder for Kesler (68)