In today's Baptist Health Practice Notebook, Jonathan Huberdeau continues to pile up milestones as the Panthers prepare for three big games heading into the holiday break.
CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. - Jonathan Huberdeau struggles to keep track of all his milestones.
But, given the rate at which he's been hitting them in recent weeks, can you really blame him?
During Monday's 6-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators at BB&T Center, the 26-year-old winger put a few more feathers in his cap. Suiting up in the 500th game of his NHL career, he posted a career-high four assists to become just the second Florida Panthers player to hit 400 career points.
Sitting second on the franchise's all-time scoring list, he's quickly closing in on Olli Jokinen's record of 419.
"You just keep telling me of my milestones," Huberdeau said with a big smile after Thursday's practice at the Panthers IceDen. "Obviously it was great. Being there at 500 was really cool. I've had some time to realize it. Time goes by so, so fast. I just try to appreciate it. Time goes fast, so I'm just focused on trying to make the playoffs, be good this year and get our spot in there."
The third overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, Huberdeau's in his eighth season with the Panthers and is also the team's longest-tenured player. So, given his high-level of talent and the amount of time that he's spent in Florida, it's only natural these milestones are becoming more frequent.
In fact, he'd already checked off a few big ones long before Monday's display.
On Nov. 16, he tallied three assists in 4-3 win over the New York Rangers to most past Stephen Weiss (249) for the most assists in franchise history (Huberdeau currently has 264). And, if you go back even further to last season, he claimed the club's single-season assists record with 62.
Climbing up the record books in unison with teammate Aleksander Barkov, who currently ranks fourth in franchise history in points (382) and goals (146) and third in assists (236), Huberdeau will likely end up ranking first or second in most offensive categories when it's all said and done.
"Huby with the puck is a special player," Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said after the win over Ottawa. "His play recognition and patience with the puck… He had some dandy little moves there tonight. He's got that capability. He can do a lot of good things. He has a lot of years left, a lot of points to come as well, and a lot of games."
EMPTYING THE TANKS
With three games left until the holiday break, the Panthers aren't holding anything back.
Trailing the Montreal Canadiens by just one point for third place in the Atlantic Division with a game in hand, the Panthers will kick of a stretch of three games in four nights when they close out their franchise-record, nine-game homestand against the Dallas Stars on Friday in Sunrise.
From there, they'll wrap up their back-to-back set with a game at the Carolina Hurricanes before heading back to the Sunshine State for a matchup with the Lighting in Tampa Bay on Monday.
"We have a back-to-back and three games in four days," said Huberdeau, who leads the team in scoring and ranks ninth in the league with 41 points. "We've got to empty it all. After that, we'll have a break for Christmas with family and friends. Three wins would be huge for us."
With a few extra days of practice this week, Quenneville said the team's been working on "a little bit of everything" as they prepare for a trio of tough opponents in a short amount of time.
"Just some reminders," Quenneville said. "A couple days of getting away a little bit. We've just had a busy couple of games here in stretches. It was a big break and now we've got three in four. We want to go into this break in the right way and finish this homestand on a positive note."
That being said, Quenneville isn't looking past tomorrow's game against the Stars.
"We always want to empty the tank every game, whether it's every game, every period or every shift," he said. "It's tough to forecast the three games. Let's just think about tomorrow's game."
Florida (16-12-5) has gone 10-7-2 at home this season; Dallas (19-12-4) is 7-7-2 on the road.
THURSDAY'S PRACTICE LINES
Frank Vatrano - Aleksander Barkov - Brett Connolly
Jonathan Huberdeau - Vincent Trocheck - Noel Acciari
Mike Hoffman - Brian Boyle - Evgenii Dadonov
Colton Sceviour - Dominic Toninato - Denis Malgin / Mark Pysyk
MacKenzie Weegar - Aaron Ekblad
Keith Yandle - Anton Stralman
Mike Matheson - Josh Brown