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The Panthers can choose to replace Barkov during the injury absence

Undeniably, change the captain Alexander Barkov It will be a daunting task in this Florida Panthers lineup. Despite the difficulties, the Panthers had no choice in Tuesday’s game after Barkov and New York Islanders guard Scott Mayfield collided with the knee. Barkov is listed as once a week, which means that if he is out within the two-week minimum timetable, the Panthers will need to change his offensive and defensive lineups for at least the next eight games. Here is how they managed to do this.

Barkov’s impressive five-on-five production

Barkov is the elite center of the NHL, especially in a balanced situation.In 15 games this season, he scored 17 points, of which Except two In these points, the strength is comparable.If Max Pacioretty who has only played two games so far this season is excluded, then Barkov ranks Tied for seventh Among NHL forwards, the percentage of people who spend more than 13 minutes on ice in 5 vs. 5 games per game.

On the defensive end, Barkov also restarted from where he left last season. He scored 11 points, which puts him tied with the other three and got the best plus or minus score in the NHL center.He averages more than 20 minutes per game, and Leading all NHL forwards In takeaway. All in all, he is continuing to produce on both sides of the hockey, which allowed him to win the 2021 Selke Trophy and become the league’s best defensive forward.

Replacing a player with a higher than average score and 9 offensive goals is difficult enough, but the Panthers also need to replace Barkov’s results on the defensive end. This task is a five-on-five task, but it also includes replacing the few minutes he spent on penalty kicks. This is how they will try to do it.

The Panthers’ new top line

In the absence of Barkov, the first choice of interim head coach Andrew Brunette seems to be with Sam Bennett, Anthony Duclair and Jonathan Huberdow, Wear the numbers 9, 10 and 11 respectively. Huberdeau and Bennett have been the main players throughout the season. The game against the Islanders on Tuesday night was the only time Huberdeau has played alongside a center other than Bennett when both are healthy.

Sam Bennett, Florida Panthers (Amy Owen / Hockey writer)

On the defensive end, Duclair leads the league in plus or minus among forwards, while Bennett is closely followed by plus or minus with a plus or minus of 10. Although some of Duclair’s defensive performance can be attributed to playing with Balkov throughout the season, this group of forwards is still an efficient two-way unit. Duclair is widely regarded as one of the fastest players in the game. He has the speed needed to join the sprint and still effectively return to the game on the defensive end. The coaching staff will count on him to do this to help offset the defensive responsible Balkov.

On the offensive end of the ball, this new line is not only fast, but also likes to shoot. Although this new line may miss Barkov’s possession advantage, they will shoot at a speed similar to the previous line of Duclair, Barkov and Carter Verhaeghe. Although Balkov led the Panthers in field goal percentage this season, Bennett followed close behind and actually led the team in field goal attempts per game. As long as Barkov leads, this line may not hold the ball in the offensive zone, but they will use their speed and preference for shooting priority to hit the net, thereby gaining a lot of offensive opportunities.

The ripples of the Panthers lineup

Barkov’s injury is the first time the Panthers have a real chance to test the impressive depth they have built during the offseason. So far, Noel Acciari is the only Panther who has missed the game due to a serious injury. Bennett, Anton Lundell and others missed a few games, but it was nothing more than a daily injury. However, this time, the Panthers’ route will undergo a fundamental change.

In the middle, the most significant change will be the regular addition of veteran forward Joe Thornton to the lineup. Thornton has only played six games so far this season, even though he saw the second strong player’s minutes in the lineup. He will retrace regularly, placing the third line between starting forwards Frank Vatrano and Owen Tippet. Thornton’s ice time is expected to increase significantly to the 14 or 15-minute mark, which is higher than his average of 10 minutes on ice this season.

Anton Lundell Florida Panthers
Anton Lundell Florida Panthers (Amy Owen / Hockey writer)

In the second team, rookie Anton Lendl will play a bigger role. Not only will he play centers Wilhager and Sam Reinhardt, who are by far the most talented offensive players in his young career, but he will also play a more prominent role in penalty shoot-outs to help make important Scrimmage and eat up the valuable playing time that was vacant due to Balkov’s injury. For Lendl, this is a great opportunity to continue to develop his two-way play and establish himself in the Panthers coaching staff. Confidence in order to deploy him in the late game with high leverage.

When it comes to the forwards’ fourth and final lines, Brunette and the coaching staff have maintained some impressive flexibility. Any combination of Patrick Hornquist, Ryan Lomberg, Etu Losstarinen, and Maxim Mamin can be used before management considers possible recruitment, such as Zach Dalpe, if Barr Cove needs time on the injury reserve list.

What to pay attention to:

Nevertheless, the Panthers’ efforts to temporarily replace Barkov’s production still have two key problems. First, the new top line will have to bear more offensive burdens than before. The work started with Huberdo, who scored 15 points in 16 games. Although close to scoring every game, given that he has only scored in four Panthers games so far, he still needs to speed up his scoring.

The second key issue revolves around Lundell’s increased responsibilities. With the second line as the center, he will be relied on to take up more ice rink time, win important defensive zone faceoffs, and spend more time on penalty kicks. Although he played with two offensive talented teammates for the first time in his career, he needs to show his ability to be a mini-Balkov and perform well both offensively and defensively.

In the end, the Panthers played five games in the next 10 days, of which the opponents of the four games were teams with a win rate of much higher than 0.500. Without their captain, the task ahead is a daunting task, but given the depth of their forward, this is a challenge they must face.

Mitch Davidson is originally from Oro-Medonte, Ontario, north of Toronto, and has been following the business of hockey, NHL and the Florida Panthers for the past 20 years.During his career, Mickey was a full-time writer because he served as the executive director of public policy Think tank, Specification Opinion columnist, with Global researcher After 6 years of work at the Canadian Institute of the Wilson Center, he worked as a senior clerk in the provincial political department.

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