50 is a significant number in many facets of life, and in hockey it’s no different. I don’t enjoy speaking highly of the Panthers’ biggest rival, but just ask Steven Stamkos how important the number 50 is.
With a pair of assists in last night’s 6-2 win over the defending Stanley Cup Champions, Tomas Fleischmann surpassed the 50 point total. His 51st point in that game tied his career high from two seasons ago when he tallied 23 goals and 28 assists with Washington.
“Flash” has been a game changer this year for Florida, and of Dale Tallon’s offseason haul, he has proven to be one of the nicest surprises. He’s netted 22 goals, four of which were game winners, and has been an integral third of the Panthers’ top line. Those 22 goals tie for team best with Kris Versteeg, who could return from his hip injury this Saturday against Buffalo. To add to the irony, Versteeg was traded to the Panthers on the same day that Fleischmann signed on as a free agent. July 1 is a big day for every team in the league, but you’ve got to think about where the Panthers would be without this couple of 20-goal scorers.
Fleischmann has been getting hot at a crucial time, averaging a point per game in the Panthers’ last four. He scored the lone goal in regulation against the red hot Penguins a week ago before the Cats gave up the equalizer with just three minutes left to play. Thanks to Flash’s offense, the Panthers were able to sneak away with a valuable point, but the game went to a shootout… so enough said.
Just two days later he lifted the Panthers to a shutout win against the Hurricanes to start a four game homestand. Stephen Weiss and Wojtek Wolski assisted on his second period goal, which stood alone until Marcel Goc sealed the deal with an empty netter after the Canes pulled Cam Ward. I would look for Fleischmann to continue to be a key factor in the final stretch of the Panthers’ playoff push with 12 games to go.
Playing in the NHL has been no cakewalk for Fleischmann as he has been battling off-ice health scares due to blood clots. The longtime issue was made worse last year in his time with the Avalanche while playing in the notably thin air in Denver. It was so severe that it not only jeopardized his career, but his life as well.
His health has stabalized, though he still has to be extra careful playing a high intensity contact sport. Because of this condition, he must give himself specialized injections after every game and wear a rubberized compression suit before getting on a plane. The dedicated attitude he has maintained through the midst of this adversity speaks volumes of his character and his commitment to the sport he loves.
Fleischmann has shown that he is much more than an offensive boost in his 50+ points. He’s been an ironman in the most admirable of ways, and I’d say the Panthers are very fortunate to have him.
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