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Panthers Sharing The Wealth On Offense

by Jameson Olive / Florida Panthers
SUNRISE, Fla. – The Florida Panthers have had no shortage of heroics throughout their impressive run to the top of the Atlantic Division, with burden of scoring being passed around the locker room nearly as often as the team’s infamous Spacey in Space hoodie.

Florida currently boasts the eighth-ranked offense in the league, yet somehow does not have a single player rank among the league’s top 40 scorers. Instead, the team has found that their offense works best when egos are checked at the door and a scoring-by-committee approach to games is embraced.  

With 28 games remaining in the regular season, Jonathan Huberdeau, Jaromir Jagr and Jussi Jokinen have each scored 38 points, placing them in a three-way tie atop Florida’s scoring leaderboard, while Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck have each chipped in 35 points of their own.

In total, the Panthers have already had six players reach or surpass the 30-point mark this season, a feat matched only by the Washington Capitals, Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings and Ottawa Senators.

“It’s about putting pucks to the net, skating and being confident,” said head coach Gerard Gallant. “If we’re going to win, it’s not about three or four guys, you need a team.”

Throughout the season, Gallant has insisted on spreading out minutes among his forwards, consistently rolling out four lines every night in order to squeeze every drop of production out of each skater. As a result, while the Panthers have no one within shouting distance of the NHL’s top-10 scoring leaders, the team does have eight players with at least 10 goals already this season.

Reilly Smith, who scored 13 goals in 81 games with Boston last season, has notched a team-leading 18 goals in his first season with the Panthers, while Trocheck and Jagr have each netted 17 of their own.

“We have some really good players,” said Gallant. “It’s a good problem to have.’’

To players like Trocheck, the Panthers’ balanced scoring has been one of the team’s more encouraging attributes so far this season. When one player is having an off night, another swoops right in to pick up the slack. It’s a safety net that each player has fallen back on at one point or another this season, which in turn has helped create a sense a trust among teammates.

“The offense has been coming together,” said Trocheck, who has five goals and 11 points in his last seven games. “We’ve got a really deep team. All four lines can score goals. It’s the kind of thing where every night you have different guys producing and stepping up. We just play our team game. We’re at the point where we know that if we play our game, we’re going to be able to score goals and win games.”

In recent weeks, this share-the-wealth mentality has been on full display, leading the team to victory and fueling the effervescent atmosphere that permeates the team’s locker room on most days.

The Panthers have scored 34 goals over their past eight games, with 13 different players lightning the lamp at least once during that span. It’s been a balanced attack, with equal contributions from both the team’s up-and-coming youngsters as well as their grizzled veterans.

The scoring has been so well rounded, in fact, that even one the team’s most defensive minded players has started to get in on the action as Alex Petrovic, a shutdown defenseman who didn’t have a single goal through the first 81 games of his career, has even managed to net two goals in his past six games.

“We’re clicking,” said Trocheck. “We’re playing great hockey. There’s something about the boys in this locker room. We’ve all come together and we’re having a ton of fun. There’s something special about this group.”

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