Just when it seemed as though the Florida Panthers were getting healthier, the injury bug doesn’t seem to go away. Last season the Panthers lost more than 320 man games to injury, and the phenomenon has continued this year as well. During last night’s victory against the Winnipeg Jets, Panther forward Scottie Upshall delivered a check to Jets defenceman Zach Redmond and former Panther James Wright took exception to the hit,immediately coming to the rescue of the rookie blue liner who was appearing in his first NHL game.
Upshall not known for his fighting, appeared to hit his head along the boards during the altercation, and has apparently injured his ankle. He’ll be lost to the Panthers for the next month. Upshall who was injured for most of last season, and limited to only 26 games, was hoping to have a productive year. He scored his first goal of the season in the home opener against Carolina off a nifty no look pass from Jonathan Huberdeau, but since then hasn’t been producing on the scoresheet. His sometimes aggressive style has contributed to his injuries throughout his career, which has seen him have only one season where he’s played 82 games (2010-2011).
With Stephen Weiss expected back on Sunday against Buffalo, the depth of the Panthers is being severly tested. George Parros was scratched from Thursday night’s game, and could find himself back in the lineup Sunday as Buffalo has an enforcer of their own in John Scott. This also means that Drew Shore gets a longer look to stay with the club, and deservedly so. With a short training camp, and a condensed schedule, what’s happening to the Panthers isn’t anything they weren’t prepared for. Each NHL team knew that roster depth would be tested, and can not be used as an excuse for poor play. Luckily for Florida, they are getting healthier, and can move players in and out of the lineup. The next big return will be Erik Gudbranson, who hopefully joins the Panthers while on the four game road trip.
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