The Panthers have been very quiet about the status of top-line center Sasha Barkov.
Following Thursday’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Canadiens, general manager/interim coach Tom Rowe said Barkov could miss up to three weeks.
With what, however, is still a mystery.
Barkov, 21, was hit in the side by a Keith Yandle shot on the final shift he played before coming off the ice in the second period of Wednesday night’s 3-2 shootout loss to Toronto.
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Rowe said he “guaranteed” Barkov did not have a rib injury. Rowe added the injury is something Barkov has been fighting for the past couple of games.
Barkov had an MRI on Thursday morning to determine the severity of his injury, with Rowe saying “it’s not good news if he’s out indefinitely.”
A Florida source said the injury wasn’t serious and Barkov was expected to miss two weeks at most. Rowe added a week to that diagnosis following the game.
“It’s definitely more than a week, probably two or three,” Rowe said.
Florida did get some good news on the lineup front Thursday, however, as Vincent Trocheck played against the Canadiens.
Trocheck left the ice in overtime Wednesday and although he came out for the shootout Rowe said earlier Thursday that Trocheck was questionable to face the Canadiens.
“He’s playing,” Rowe said. “He’s a tough kid, he plays through a lot of stuff, and he wasn’t going to come out of the lineup [Thursday]. He knows the situation.”
THIS AND THAT
Florida will definitely miss Barkov for however long he is out, with Nick Bjugstad sliding up to center a new top line featuring Jaromir Jagr and Seth Griffith.
With Barkov injured, two-thirds of Florida’s top trio is on the shelf; Jonathan Huberdeau has been out since severing his Achilles’ tendon during the preseason and is out until mid-to-late February.
“He’s our best player, plays in all situations and is out there, control of the game,” Yandle said of the possible loss of Barkov following Wednesday’s game.
Said Rowe: “Guys like Bjugstad are going to get to play more consistently for us; it’s a good thing for him. Derek MacKenzie is a guy who shows up to work every day, so he will get more minutes than he has been getting.”
▪ Thursday’s matchup was a battle of the past two Florida backup goalies, as James Reimer started for the Panthers against Montreal’s Al Montoya.
“Monty played great for us last year,” Rowe said. “I’m sure he’s excited about playing back here. He’s a good goaltender, so we have to be ready.”
Montoya spent two seasons with the Panthers but was let go in the offseason as Florida wanted to go with a player (Reimer) it targeted who could step in and be a starter if Luongo got injured.
Rowe said Florida considered Montoya but only on a one-year deal; Reimer agreed to come to the Panthers and signed a five-year pact on July 1 as Montoya moved north to Montreal.
“We felt Reimer, potentially, can be a No. 1 for us down the road,” Rowe said.
“If the dominoes didn’t fall, Montoya was definitely on our list.”
▪ Josiane Huberdeau, Jonathan’s younger sister, sang the Canadian national anthem before Thursday’s game.
▪ Trocheck recorded his 100th NHL point with Wednesday’s game-tying goal in the third period against the Maple Leafs.
▪ With Barkov out, Florida called up center Michael Sgarbossa from its AHL affiliate in Springfield, Massachussetts. Florida acquired Sgarbossa from Anaheim last month for Logan Shaw.
▪ Reilly Smith, who sustained a concussion last week against Detroit, is expected to be back at practice Friday and activated Saturday in Dallas.