Remember last season, when the Florida Panthers won the Southeast Division for the first time in quite some time and were ready to do it again this season? That seems like a pipe dream now, considering the Panthers hold a 7-14-6 record, have just 20 points through 27 games, sit in the basement of the Eastern Conference and are absolutely ravaged by injuries on top of it all.
Injuries are a natural risk of any NHL season, especially a shortened one, but it seems like the Panthers have been almost unfairly targeted by the injury bug. This latest report seems practically cruel, considering that it happened to someone who had only played 10 games so far this season and had just returned from another injury recently.
Kris Versteeg‘s season is over because he needs knee surgery. He suffered the injury in the game on March 12 against the Tampa Bay Lightning after previously missing much of the season so far with an upper-body injury. He’d scored two goals and added two assists in his 10 games played. Thus, Florida’s third-highest point scorer last season is sitting it out yet again.
But the team’s leadership has also been affected by all these injuries. Captain Ed Jovanovski is also out with a lower-body malady and has been since the beginning of February. Alternate captain Stephen Weiss‘ season is basically already over because of a wrist injury requiring surgery. At least Brian Campbell, another alternate, is still healthy–right?
On the offensive side, Scottie Upshall is also out with a lower-body injury, but the defensive corps has been particularly affected: four defensemen are all on the injured reserve. Jose Theodore‘s injury is also forcing goalies Scott Clemmensen and Jacob Markstrom into increased action, but neither of them have been standouts. Both of them have save percentages lower than .900 and Clemmensen has a ghastly 4.28 goals-against average while Markstrom has a tendency to give up really early goals.
This season for Panthers fans may be akin to what last season was for the Montreal Canadiens: something absolutely, positively worth forgetting.