Significant Injury News For Aaron Ekblad and Panthers

The Florida Panthers have been hit hard by the injury bug at the worst possible time, as the playoffs are quickly approaching. Now they've learned that top-pairing defenseman Aaron Ekblad will be out for the remainder of the regular season. 

Ekblad left Tuesday's game in Montreal after the first period and did not return. 

Head coach Paul Maurice does say that he is "quite confident" that Ekblad will be back in time for the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs in a couple of weeks. But it's a troublesome situation, nevertheless, for the Panthers who also lost Carter Verhaeghe to an upper-body injury on Monday. He's considered week-to-week, but they also have hope that he, too, can return for the postseason. 

As for Ekblad, Maurice was trying his best to put out good vibes, saying "This is not new and it's not unknown to us, what it is. He's got a real good handle on how long it's going to take. He's progressing really well."

The Panthers are currently in second place in the Atlantic Division with 99 points, and have just six games remaining in the regular season. But now they'll be heading into the playoffs with two key players having been out for the final couple of weeks, and they've been limping along with a 2-7-1 mark in their last 10 games.

Photo: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports