|Kulikov has four goals and 20 assists this season. (Getty Images)|
The Florida Panthers injury bug has moved on to the defensemen.
First the Panthers were down as many as seven forwards at one point this season. Also, all three goalies who have played for them this season have each been out for a duration of time (currently it's Jacob Markstrom).
Now Dmitry Kulikov will join fellow dman Ed Jovanovski on the bench for the next month and a half to two months after coach Kevin Dineen announced on Tuesday that the Panthers' young defenseman had surgery on his knee on Monday.
In his third season in the NHL since the Panthers selected him with their first selection the draft in 2009, Kulikov has begun to develop into the defenseman the Panthers were hoping for. Like any defenseman playing in the league right away, he struggled but has progressed significantly to the point that his four goals and 20 assists thus far leave him only two behind his career-high point total.
The Panthers had been carrying seven defensemen all season so they were able to withstand the loss of Jovanovski to a broken hand without making any moves. But this obviously necessitated a callup, so the Panthers recalled Tyson Strachan from the AHL.
Strachan has played 67 career games in the NHL spread across three seasons with the Blues. The Panthers signed him over the summer as a free agent.
With all of the injuries, it's a wonder the Panthers have been able to maintain their spot atop the Southeast. That will be even tougher to do now that the defense starts feeling the injury bug.
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