The Panthers will bring rookie Alexander Barkov on the upcoming weekend road trip to Detroit and Chicago. Whether Barkov will play is still a question.
“We’ll see where he is,” Panthers interim coach Peter Horachek said. “I expect him to be out.”
Of course, Horacheck called Barkov’s injury a “lower body” injury, which is accurate — the ankle is part of the lower body. Barkov suffered his injury in the third period of Thursday night’s 5-2 Panthers win against Winnipeg.
Horachek said Scott Gomez or Jesse Winchester could take Barkov’s place in the lineup. And they could probably match the rookie’s picayune production: 11 pointless games in the last 13, 18 pointless in the last 21.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
It’s doubtful, however, they would play the same 17-20 minutes a game, which includes power play time, that Horachek has given Barkov over the last three weeks.
The on-ice portion of Friday’s practice was optional. Five forwards, five defensemen and goalie Scott Clemmensen took the ice. The rest limited themselves to off-ice lifting. With three games in four nights — the Panthers return to face Detroit on Tuesday — energy conservation is at a high.
One of the five defenseman at practice was 29-year-old Matt Gilroy, whom the Panthers brought off injured reserve then put on waivers. Gilroy went on injured reserve Nov. 25.
If he clears waivers, he’ll likely go to the Panthers’ AHL affiliate in San Antonio. Gilroy going down means defenseman Dylan Olsen, who got his first NHL goal Thursday, will stay with the Panthers.
Not you again
Horachek can’t get away from the Red Wings.
He spent nine seasons with Nashville, in the same division with Detroit. The franchises hooked up in three playoff series, Detroit winning in 2004 (Nashville’s first playoff series) and 2008, Nashville winning in 2012.
Horachek joins the Panthers organization, winds up interim coach … and there’s Detroit in the same division after the realignment.
“My whole time there [in Nashville] was built around the Red Wings,” Horachek said. “They were the gold standard. They were the team to beat. If you wanted to win your division, you had to go through Detroit. They did things the right way. They have the championships and players to back that up.”