Entering the month of February, the Florida Panthers were on a roll. They were undefeated in regulation for the entire month of January, and it was clear they were hungry for more. The only big difference is that this month they were playing teams that were considered to be contenders. This included teams like the Carolina Hurricanes, Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning.
Before those games, Florida suffered an unusual loss to the Detroit Red Wings by a score of 4-1, giving them their first regulation loss of the season. As a result, questions arose about the squad’s potential. However, those talks were quickly shut down as they beat Tampa twice in three nights, Carolina and Dallas two times in three games. In addition, Florida currently holds the top position in the Central Division. This is in large part due to their successful and lethal offense.
Offensive Stars Continue to Dominate
Ranked ninth in the league in goals per game, this team has found multiple ways to win, from comeback goal scoring to complete domination of their opponents.
This is due to their stars on offense like forward Jonathan Huberdeau. He currently leads the team in points with 23 and in assists with 16. In addition, he notched his first career hat trick on February 4th. Through his last 10 games, he’s tallied 11 points (five goals, eight assists). Through this month, he’s shown he can carry a line and play like an all-star in today’s game.
However, that does not mean his linemates aren’t contributing. Newly acquired, Patric Hornqvist continues to do what he does best, be a pest in the crease. Due to that style of play, he’s tied in the team lead in goals with eight. Furthermore, he is lethal on the man-advantage, leading his team with five power play goals.
Furthermore, after a slow start, center Alex Wennberg is starting to make some waves in Sunrise. Throughout the month of February, he’s scored five goals and assisted in five more. His goal count is how much he had last season through 57 games with Columbus. If he’s already hit that point in a 56 game season, the sky is the limit for him.
Furthermore, captain Aleksander Barkov continues to show night in and night out why he’s one of the best forwards in today’s NHL. Through his last nine games, he’s piled up nine points (four goals, five assists). Furthermore, he’s tied for the team lead with Hornqvist in goals with eight. In addition, his helping hand in Carter Verhaeghe is making Tampa regret letting him walk in free agency. Through 19 games played, he has seven goals and seven assists. His seven tallies tie him for second on the team in goals with Huberdeau.
Defense Jumps In
The defensive scoring has also given the team a dangerous offensive reputation. For example, Aaron Ekblad has shown his strong offensive ability. The first overall pick in the 2014 draft is currently tied for the league lead in goals by a defenseman with six. In addition, he has 11 points total on the campaign, making him second on the team’s defensemen in points.
Additionally, Keith Yandle shows that he can produce at a high level offensively. He currently leads all defensemen on the team in points with 13 (three goals, 10 assists). Throughout his career, Yandle has shown he can be a power play quarterback, and this season was no different. Currently, he’s tied for the team lead in power play points, with Jonathan Huberdeau at nine points.
Panthers’ Power Play is Lethal
The Panthers’ offensive stars have also shown they can get it done even in big power play situations. Due to their explosiveness on offense, Florida currently hones a top-10 power play unit, ranking eighth in the NHL at a 26.4 percent conversion rate.
This is because of their fast forwards that can set up on the attack quickly with good moves, clean zone entries, and crisp passing from guys like Huberdeau and Barkov. Furthermore, their defenseman jump in as they have players who can rip it from the point or wing such as Ekblad and Radko Gudas,. Finally, their gritty forwards create big chances with deflections and rebounds with players like Hornqvist.
It’s clear that Florida has the offensive firepower that can lead to the playoffs. As previously mentioned, the Panthers are in a prime playoff position and have shown that it can hang with the big boys in the Lightning and the Hurricanes. While this may not necessarily be a vision for postseason success quite just yet, it gives the team and fans a glimmer of hope. For the first time in a while, Florida is legit, and no one should sleep on this franchise this season.
My name is Joey. I’ve been writing about the NHL for about 3 years with my experience spread out between TSJ 101 Sports and Panther Parkway. I look forward to you reading my articles!