Panthers angry about 'cheap shot' from Red Wings' Justin Abdelkader

The Florida Panthers are not happy about this hit from Detroit Red Wings' Justin Abdelkader. (YouTube)
The Florida Panthers are not happy about this from Detroit's Justin Abdelkader. (YouTube)

The Florida Panthers lost in Detroit on Monday night, but they might have lost something even more important than a single game. Center Aleksander Barkov had to leave the game after he was on the receiving end of a big open ice hit from Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader in the second period.

Barkov left the game and did not return, and the team has already said that he will not play in Tuesday's game against the Buffalo Sabres.

At this point, the Panthers are only saying that it is an "upper body injury."

Here is a look at the play that did not result in a penalty on the ice.

Actually, the Panthers ended up having to kill a penalty because Alex Petrovic cross-checked Abdelkader following the hit. 

There definitely appears to be contact to the head, and that is probably going to get the attention of the NHL's department of player safety. Especially since there was an injury on the play and Abdelkader has been suspended once before. He earned a two-game ban for charging then-Anaheim Ducks defenseman Toni Lydman during the 2013 playoffs. That is usually the perfect recipe for a suspension from the NHL. 

The Panthers were not only livid in the moments immediately after the hit (and later in the game when Abdelkader had to fight Derek MacKenzie), but it carried over to the postgame as well. That is where Barkov's teammate Nick Bjugstad and coach Gerrard Gallant both called the hit a "cheap shot," via George Richards of the Miami Herald, and couldn't understand how no penalty was called. Jaromir Jagr added that players are going to do whatever referees allow and it's up to them (the refs) to put a stop to hits like that. 

Barkov will not be an easy player to replace for the Panthers, even if he is out for just a couple of games. He is one of their top players at both ends of the ice, and when he was sidelined for 10 games earlier this season with a broken hand the team only won four games during what was one of their worst stretches of the season. 

In 43 games this season Barkov has 35 points (16 goals and 19 assists) for the Panthers and just signed a long-term, $35.4 million contract extension a few weeks ago. He has spent most of the season playing on a line with Jagr and Jonathan Huberdeau, a trio that has been one of the best in the NHL. They have been a significant reason for the Panthers' climb to the top of the Atlantic Division standings. 

Even after Monday's loss, their second loss in a row, they still have a six-point lead in the division.

CBS Sports Writer

Adam Gretz has been writing about the NHL and taking an analytical approach to the game since the start of the 2008 season. A member of the PHWA since 2015, he has spent more than three years covering... Full Bio

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