SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers have had two of their most impactful players unavailable for the past few games as center Sam Bennett and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky have been out with separate issues.
Bennett has been battling a groin injury since initially getting hurt Feb. 14 in St. Louis.
After leaving that game, he missed six games before returning.
Bennett then played in the next seven games but left Florida’s game in Detroit in the third period on March 20 after getting hurt again.
He has now missed the past seven games and did not practice on Monday. Bennett is doing off-ice work but will not play Tuesday against Buffalo — and his return to the lineup is not known.
On March 23 before playing Toronto, Bennett came out for the morning skate but did not last long.
Maurice said Bennett is expected to skate on Tuesday.
“He has to get back on the ice, has to get a few practices in,” coach Paul Maurice said following Florida’s practice Monday at FLA Live Arena.
“We’ll get him on the ice tomorrow and see how he recovers from that ice session. If he feels good the next day, we’ll get him heavier. There is a chance for the end of the week.
”It is a tough injury that heals at its own rate. There is not a lot of room on it. It just has to get better. You can’t play in the NHL with it. It’s soft tissue, it is healing, we think it’s got forward motion. We just have to get through those hoops.”
As for Bobrovsky, the chances he plays this week seem fairly likely depending on how quickly he gets his physical strength back.
Bobrovsky has been dealing with what the team calls a ‘non-Covid’ illness since he missed Wednesday’s start in Toronto.
He started feeling ill on Monday before Florida’s game in Ottawa but toughed it out and made that start. By Tuesday, it was apparent he would not be able to go and Alex Lyon made the first of what became three consecutive starts.
Bobrovsky did not practice on Monday and Lyon will make that four straight starts Tuesday against Buffalo.
But, Bobrovsky could be back on Thursday when Ottawa comes to town.
The Panthers are hoping that Bobrovsky — who is being hit hard with fluids to counter his dehyradtion issues — can get through a practice on Tuesday. If he looks good on Wednesday, he could be in line to get back in the lineup.
Florida could also continue rolling with Lyon on Thursday and just keep a cautious eye on Bobrovsky.
Time will tell.
“He may be able to backup (Tuesday) but he is just sick,’’ Maurice said. “He is getting better. We wouldn’t put him in the lineup unless we were sure he could get through a game. That one is hour-to-hour. We’ll check on him tonight and see how he is tomorrow.”
PANTHERS ON DECK
BUFFALO SABRES AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida; ESPN+
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Season Series (Florida leads 2-1): Panthers 4, Sabres 3 (Oct. 15); Panthers 4, Sabres 1 (Jan. 16); Sabres 3, Panthers 1 (Feb. 24)
- Last season: Florida won 3-0
- All-time regular season series: Florida leads 53-45-8, 4 ties
- Up Next for the Panthers: Ottawa Senators at Florida, Thursday, 7 p.m.