Nine games into the young 2021-22 season, the Florida Panthers find themselves second in the Southeast Division with a record of 5-2-1-1. That???s two points behind fellow Floridians the Tampa Bay Lightning, who have played one more game.
The Panthers??? goal differential sits at minus 2, which is a worrying sign. It won???t hurt them within the division, since the Capitals, Blue Jackets and Hurricanes are doing their part to carry on the old ???Southleast??? nickname, all under the .400 mark. But the Cats will have to pick it up if they intend to compete in the playoffs, after losing to the Rangers in the first round in five last year.
Matt Duchene, last season???s marquee acquisition, leads the team with five goals and 11 points through nine games. Linemate Connor Brickley, without a doubt Florida???s best player, is at a point per game with five goals of his own. Behind them on the scoring list are Mikael Granlund and Evan Bouchard, fresh off his four-year, $19 million extension in the off-season.
But part of the offensive supporting cast has sputtered so far. Summer pick-ups Sebastian Aho and Maxime Fortier have a measly two assists apiece. Filip Chytil has one goal. Jansen Harkins has two points. Michael MacLeod has four. To be fair to Harkins and Chytil, they were bumped to the third line by Aho and Fortier. But they need to step it up.
>> Full story