The Florida Panthers‘ offense has been on display more recently, as their mixture of young talent and veterans have been creating more chances near the net. This continued tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins with a 5-1 victory.
The Panthers seem to have Pittsburgh’s number for some reason, as one would think that the more potent offense and overall more solid play of the Penguins would enable them to easily defeat Florida. That simply has not been the case.
Florida owns the 28th overall spot in goals per game, and the 30th overall slot on the PP. All things considered, it has been a rough year for them, as they look to return to contention by creating more offense. The play of Tim Thomas in net has been another positive, though, it was Scott Clemmensen who actually performed well in goal tonight.
What Florida needs more than anything is solid play from its best player on the ice tonight (not Drew Shore): Jonathan Huberdeau. He came into the year with high expectations after a phenomenal rookie season. However, like many second-year players before him, he has not quite performed up to the same standard.
I do think that Huberdeau is now trying to pick up the responsibility to provide secondary scoring that comes from a place outside of the now-famous Killer B line. If he can greatly improve his play, it gives the Panthers a way of competing for a late in-season push, which is well beyond the expectations that most hockey analysts had for them.
I think the impetus in this particular case falls on the talented and heralded young Huberdeau to provide an answer should his team struggle to find the net.
I am hopeful that he will be able to find the net more often himself, and light a fire underneath his team, as they look to extend their season. Though some have counted them out, it is clear that Florida is not giving up any time soon.