Welcome to Florida Panthers: State of the Union, where we talk all things Panthers hockey.
Mike Lewis is the voice behind the State of the Union and each week will look to bring some insight from analysts and Panthers media personalities.
This week’s guest, Florida Panthers Radio play-by-play announcer, Randy Moller
ML: I want to talk a bit about Sasha Barkov. After a slow start to the season, Barkov has ten points in his last ten games. What has stood out to you about Sasha?
RM: Barkov has gotten off to a slow start. He has battled through some injuries and I think that has stunted his growth a little bit. I think everybody was mystified why Sasha wasn’t participating and helping with the offense at the start of the season, yet the team was still having success. In saying that, I give full credit to Dale Tallon and management, Gerard Gallant and the coaching staff for staying patient. What we still have to tell ourselves and continue to remind ourselves is that Barkov is only in his second year and he’s only 19 years old. You have to be patient with these young players and we’re all very happy to see him come out of that. He’s much more assertive now with his play, I think his confidence level has risen and I think in conjunction with that, we’ve seen more production.
ML: Called up for the Columbus game, Alex Petrovic made his season debut earning an assist on the game-winning goal. He also contributed physically with five hits in 11:05 of playing time. Now an AHL All-Star, Petrovic is coming along quite well in the minors, what have you seen out of Petrovic?
RM: To play be and be consistent and productive especially on the blueline it takes a while these young men need to mature physically and mentally as well. You can tell and it’s very evident, that Alex Petrovic has grown up and gotten a lot stronger and a lot more confident in his ability and it showed last night. I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for Petrovic, he played his junior hockey in my hometown of Red Deer, Alberta. He was a big star there. He was a dominant, physical, right handed shooting defenseman. Those are very valuable assets if you ask anyone trying to build a hockey team. The upside for Petrovic is he has a physical presence as well, a lot like Erik Gudbranson. He likes to run around a bit, likes to take some big hits which he demonstrated against the Columbus Blue Jackets. I think he’s going to fit in well, I’m very impressed with his progression but you can tell he’s night and day a different hockey player than he was at training camp last year.