Last game against the Philadelphia Flyers Jonathan Huberdeau ended a 19-game streak without a goal, and now for the second consecutive game a Florida Panther ended a long goal drought.
For the first time since March 1, Nick Bjugstad light the lamp – twice for that fact – registering his first multi-goal and three point game of his young, promising career. His second goal of the game was also his first career shorthanded goal.
With 38-points on the season, Bjugstad now leads the team in points, one ahead of Scottie Upshall. His total is the lowest of any other team leader this season, but what can’t be stressed enough is that every game played now is actually being played to build towards the future.
Standing a towering 6’6, Bjugstad is a budding power forward and he showed the potential last night – absolutely dominating the Toronto Maple Leafs, who didn’t have an answer for his power move. He used it on his first goal and hisassist to Brad Boyes after using it a few times to power around defenders, one being Maple Leaf captain Dion Phaneuf.
After his three point night, Bjugstad leap frogged New York Rangers’ rookie Chris Kreider and put him in a tie with Torey Krug for the fourth most points from a rookie. That last time a Florida rookie scored as many as Bjugstad did – Michael Frolik.
When Alexsander Barkov returns healthy next season, he will take the role as the team’s top center, which shouldn’t be looked as a bad thing for Bjugstad. He showed this season that he has the potential to be a top line center, but as a second line center his value skyrockets even more.
Power forwards usually take a little longer for their game’s to fully develop, but at just 21-years old Bjugstad has already played a full season worth of NHL games – meaning he has had the opportunity to deal with the ‘grind’ of the season and adjust to it.
Not only that but he has produced, and put up arguably his best game of the season in his 76th game played – 36-more games than he had played in any other season during his college career.
Part of the team’s young core, Bjugstad and the Panthers have a bright future ahead of them – the only thing that is needed is time to allow them to grow, together.
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