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Top of the Line

by Alain Poupart / Florida Panthers

Have to be honest, there’s something wrong with the Panthers forward line of Sean Bergenheim, Aleksander Barkov and Brad Boyes.

Oh, it’s got nothing to do with their work on the ice. That’s been downright eye-opening over the past several games.

It’s the nickname I’ve been seeing and hearing about. Killer B’s? Yeah, that’s logical because, well, all three have last names that start with the letter B.

But, see, that nickname already was taken by another sports group — and in the same area of the country no less. Of course, many Panthers fans are too young to remember the Miami Dolphins defense of the early 1980s which earned the same nickname because that group included key players named Brudzinski, Bokamper, Betters, Baumhower, Bowser, Barnett and even two Blackwoods.

Hence the nickname Killer B’s.

That’s already been taken. So we need to come up with something different if Bergenheim, Barkov and Boyes need to have a nickname.

How about the B-Boys? Get it? B for their names and Boys as a reference to Boyes.

Finns and Friend? You know, for Finland, the birthplace of Bergenheim and Barkov.

OK, so those two suggestions might be weak. At least they’re original.

That the idea of nickname has even come up is a testament to how well that line has been playing lately, and that’s what really matters.

Barkov has 12 points in the past 12 games; Boyes has six points in the past four games; and Bergenheim is on a goal-scoring tear, with eight goals in the past 12 games.

The three work so well together because of their complementary skills. There’s Boyes, who is the best pure scorer of the three; Bergenheim, the grinder who’ll get his nose dirty; and Barkov, the wunderkind with the magical passing touch.

All three are great stories in their own right. With Bergenheim, it’s his remarkable comeback after his prolonged absence. With Boyes, it’s about how the Panthers got a steal when they signed him after he came to training camp on a professional tryout. And, of course, everyone knows about Barkov by now.

His story just got better on Tuesday when he was named to Finland’s Olympic team. It was just the latest achievement for the youngest player in the NHL, who happens to lead the Panthers in scoring at the ripe old age of 18.

One final thought on Barkov: It’s rather disturbing to check out various midseason award stories and not see him among the so-called leading candidates for the Calder Trophy. As has been mentioned often in this space, the kid has been tremendous pretty much all season because of his all-around game. He’s getting more attention lately because of his recent point streak, but there’s always been so much more to his game.

The way things have been going lately with his linemates, there’s no reason to think Barkov won’t be able to keep racking up the points as the regular season continues. In the 2-1 loss against the Montreal Canadiens Monday night, a game where the Panthers deserved a better fate after a dominant third period, Florida’s lone goal was scored by Bergenheim with assists from Barkov and Boyes.

The Bergenheim-Barkov-Boyes line had struck again. Now, if we could only come up with a good nickname.

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