The Florida Panthers head into their all-star break and into february with six straight wins
The Panthers have been on a tear throughout the NHL recently. They are entering the All-Star break and into the month of February riding a six game winning streak after beating the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday, January 22. In addition, the month of January was extremely successful for the Cats as the team went 8-2-0 throughout this month. With their recent success, the team has surged back into third in the Atlantic Division behind Tampa by only one point.
What has helped them this month?
putting the power in “Power pLay”
The Florida Panthers can turn to their success on the power play for their great run of January. As of right now, they are fifth in the league on the man-advantage with a 24.5% conversion rate. In their last six games, they have scored at least one power play goal. With all the bright stars on offense, it’s almost no wonder this teams power play is so successful.
The offense continues to do damage
It’s no secret that the Florida Panthers have one of the best offenses in the NHL with players like Aleksander Barkov, who has nine points in a six game point streak. In addition, Evgenii Dadonov continues to wreck havoc across the NHL as he has a four game goal streak. In addition, Dadonov has tallied a point in every game this month except for one, with a total of 11 points in his last 10. He also leads the team in goals with 23.
The player representing the Panthers in St. Louis this weekend, Jonathan Huberdeau, showed us all why he was worthy of an All-Star selection. Against Toronto on January 12, he passed Olli Jokinen for most points in franchise history. The best part about that is that he’s only 26. There’s still so much of him left at this stage in his career. Over the course of his last 10 games, he has amassed 12 points. This also includes six points in his last five games. He currently leads the team in points with 65.
Mike Hoffman has also been stacking up points. In every game in the month of January, he has tallied at least one point. He has 13 points on a 10 game point streak. He currently holds the franchise record for longest point streak with 17 straight, which he set last season. Can he do it again? He’s also tied for second in goals for the team this season with 18.
Frank Vatrano has been pitching in to help as he has nine points in a five game point streak, this includes a hat trick he scored on Tuesday against Chicago.
The Cats currently lead the NHL in goals per game with 3.67 a game and lead the league in overall goals with 180.
The “bean bag” boys
The dynamic duo of forwards Vincent Trocheck and Noel Acciari have been outstanding since being put together by Coach Q in December. Trocheck has four points over his last five games and “Cookies” scored the game winning goal against the Wild on Monday with about four seconds left in the game. Trocheck seems to have regained his form since his injury and Acciari continues to look like the biggest steal from this past free agency. It’s also no secret that this line has some of the best forechecking ability in the NHL right now. This makes them a threat night in and night out.
Ekblad returning to form
Arguably the comeback player of the year on this squad is defensman Aaron Ekblad. He leads the team in rating with a +12 and is currently on a four game point streak. He has become an elite defenseman, and that’s what Florida is going to need come playoff time.
However, the Panthers have unfortunately faced some bumps in the road.
the penalty kill needs to start killing
Mainly during their winning streak, the Panthers kept putting themselves in the box during crunch time in most games. It resulted in near comebacks or giving a team life. For example, near the end of their game against the Los Angeles Kings on January 16, they took two penalties which resulted in two goals, making the game 4-3.
The Panthers also took seven penalties against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday. Thankfully, all seven were killed off.
They are currently 23 in the league in the penalty kill, this has to improve down this stretch or this could kill their playoff hopes.
injuries: they’re part of the game
Injuries have affected the Panthers throughout the month of January and still are going into next month. It occurred to goaltenders Sergei Bobrovsky and Chris Driedger. Bob came back recently from the injury and won his last 3 games, but Driedger is expected to be out post All-Star break.
In addition, defenseman Mackenzie Weegar, who was originally supposed to be day-to-day with an upper-body injury, is expected to be out until after the All-Star break. Because of this, they put him on LTIR to bring up Sam Montembeault. This also forced the call up of Riley Stillman, who has been excellent since he’s been here.
What awaits the Panthers in February?
Hopefully Saint Valentine can give them some love in February. As previously mentioned, they go into next month riding a six game winning streak. The only downside is that most teams chasing them have some games before the Panthers even play. They take on the Montreal Canadians on Saturday, February first.
As previously stated, they currently sit at third in the Atlantic Division with only one point separating them from Tampa for second.
For now, every point is gonna matter for the next two months. If this team has the mental toughness, they should be a shoe in for the playoffs.
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