The Florida Panthers lost top line center Aleksander Barkov to an upper-body injury in Monday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings. Barkov took a high hit from Justin Abdelkader in the second period.
On the hit there was solid contact with Barkov’s head and it appears that Abdelkader leaves his feet as he follows through on the check. He went down and was removed from the game due to a possible concussion, according to George Richards of the Miami Herald.
Abdelkader had to answer the bell to Derek MacKenzie later in the game.
After the game, the Panthers were not happy about the hit. Nick Bjugstad let his disappointment with the hit be known in no uncertain terms. “I don’t know if it was an elbow or a shoulder, but he got him in the head and it’s a head shot,” he told he told Richards. “It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it.”
“It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We’ll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don’t know how it wasn’t handled on the ice.”
Jaromir Jagr felt similarly, saying, “They are going to do whatever the referees allow them to. It’s up the referees for it to stop.”
“We’re disappointed to lose him,” said coach Gerard Gallant after the game. “I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It’s tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it’ll be looked at. [Abdelkader] left his feet a little and got him in the jaw.”
If Barkov is lost for any amount of time it’s a blow to the playoff-bound Panthers, even with Bjugstad back in the lineup. The team’s top-line center has, in just 43 games, tied his career-high of 16 goals and is one point shy of his career-high of 36 points. That kind of production earned Sasha a six-year contract extension recently.
Watch the hit below.