When Alexsander Barkov was injured during the Olympics, the ‘Killer-B’s’ line was became without a center. It looks as if they have found a more than passable replacement – permanent or not.
With Nick Bjugstad plugged into the top line, the Florida Panthers’ top line haven’t missed a beat and with all due respect to the 18-year old rookie phenom Barkov, they might be operating at an even higher efficiency at the moment.
With Sean Bergenheim and Brad Boyes on his wing, Bjugstad has been nightmare for opposing teams using his giant frame and skill set to show the potential to be one of the game’s dominant power forwards in the game. That’s right, one of the best power forwards in the NHL.
Last night should prove any doubters wrong on that statement, as Bjugstad was dominant again – a wrecking force with his physically imposing frame as well as showing a touch that some of the smaller skilled forwards lacked.
His play, along with the play of Boyes help set up Bergenheim with opportunity after opportunity. When it was all said and done, Bergenheim finished with a career high 12-shots on net – as well as a penalty shot.
His showed a softer side of his game was displayed when he decided to take it upon himself to split two-defenders and getting a near scoring opportunity. And did I mention he was 15-of-23 in the faceoff dot, including a nearly perfect 7-of-8 in his own end?
With an assist last night, he continues he steady climb up the team’s scoring charts – currently sitting with 27-points which puts him in a fourth place tie with Tom Gilbert.
Scottie Upshall only leads the team with 31-points – so it’s not unconceivable for Bjugstad to push for the team lead by the end of the season – maybe even push the 40-point mark that no Panther is currently on pace for.
I am a big fan of Bjugstad, even before coming to The Rat Trick. Watching him play at the World Juniors I knew I was watching a future dominant power forward, and watching him starting to grow into one at the NHL level has been absolutely awesome.
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