The Florida Panthers will be without an important piece of their lineup in a crucial game against the Washington Capitals on Thursday night.
It is a game which carries a lot of postseason implications.
Sam Bennett has been ruled out for Thursday’s game in Washington D.C. with an injury he sustained late in the second period of Florida’s 6-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday.
Bennett has shouldered a big role on the team — playing heavy minutes alongside Matthew Tkachuk and Carter Verhaeghe — and is sixth on the team in scoring with 35 points.
It is not expected that they will be without him for long, however.
“It’s something he’s dealt with in the past,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said.
“He has a good understanding of where it’s at. We’re not particularly concerned it’s long term.”
Colin White will draw in for him while Eetu Luostarinen is expected to take his spot on the second line.
The Capitals will also be without a cornerstone of their lineup as Alex Ovechkin is currently out for personal reasons following the passing of his father.
Ovechkin, who currently occupies the No. 2 spot on the All-Time scoring list, leaves a huge void in Washington’s offense and power play after starting the season with 32 goals and 54 points in 54 games.
“When he has the puck on our end of the ice, you have to make sure he does not have half a second to get that thing off,” Maurice said.
“But they won’t change their systems. They will just be one shooter down and they have dealt with it all year and they have survived an awful lot of injuries so they will still be a good hockey team.”
It will be a crucial matchup for both sides as the Panthers are just one point behind the Capitals for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
With 25 games to go, this could be a make or break game for both teams.
PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT WASHINGTON CAPITALS
- When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
- Where: Capital One Arena, Washington D.C.
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida; ESPN+
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- DraftKings odds — Panthers favored: Money Line (-115); Puck line (-1.5, +200); Over/Under 6.5 (-105/-115)
- Last season: Panthers won 2-1 (d. Capitals 4-2 in first round)
- This season (Florida leads 1-0): Panthers 5, Capitals 2 (Nov. 15)
- All-time regular season series: Washington leads 67-44-12, 9 ties
- Up Next for the Panthers: Saturday at Nashville, 2 p.m.
PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINEUP
15 Anton Lundell // 16 Sasha Barkov // 13 Sam Reinhart
23 Carter Verhaeghe // 27 Eetu Luostarinen // 19 Matthew Tkachuk
94 Ryan Lomberg // 12 Eric Staal // 14 Grigori Denisenko
21 Nick Cousins // 6 Colin White // 54 Givani Smith
42 Gus Forsling // 5 Aaron Ekblad
62 Brandon Montour // 18 Marc Staal
28 Josh Mahura // 7 Radko Gudas
72 Sergei Bobrovsky
30 Spencer Knight
Injured: Anthony Duclair (LTIR-Achilles), Patric Hornqvist (LTIR-concussion), Sam Bennett (undisclosed)
Scratched: Casey Fitzgerald, Chris Tierney
PROJECTED WASHINGTON CAPITALS LINEUP
73 Connor Sheary // 92 Evgeny Kuznetsov // 39 Anthony Mantha
15 Sonny Milano // 19 Nicklas Backstrom // 90 Marcus Johansson
91 Joe Snively // 17 Dylan Strome // 77 T.J. Oshie
96 Nicolas Aube-Kubel // 20 Lars Eller // 21 Garnet Hathaway
56 Erik Gustafsson // 57 Trevor Van Reimsdyk
9 Dmitry Orlov // 3 Nick Jensen
25 Dylan McIlrath // 42 Martin Fehervary
35 Darcy Kuemper
79 Charlie Lindgren