With a new coaching staff in place for this year, the Florida Panthers must play around with some combinations for the penalty killing unit.
For a good portion of last season, the Panthers were ranked first on the PK. It was basically one of their fewest bright spots during their difficult year. If the Cats hope to contend for a playoff spot this season, then they’ll need to make sure that their successful penalty kill continues to hold up.
For the past three years, I have always wondered why both Barkov and Trocheck have not been paired as a penalty killing unit. The two would not only dominate, but would easily rank amongst the best PK units in the entire league. With Reilly Smith gone, it leaves a spot open for another player to slip right in. This is the perfect opportunity to bring Barkov right in.
While Aleksander may also play on the power play, his role on the team should only increase from here. He is capable of playing both the PP and PK. It’s time for his minutes to increase, and what better way to do so then to put him on the penalty kill. As it stands, you would have Barkov, Trocheck, Sceviour and MacKenzie as the forwards killing the penalties. Those are four solid players to have as a rotation.
Depending on who the Cats may play during a specific night, it would be wise to strategically decide who should be paired with whom on the PK. For instance, if the Panthers are playing a team who is successful on the PP like Boston (ranked 1st at the end of the season), then they really should opt for a duo of Vinnie and Barky as the forward unit. those two would likely kill off the penalty with ease, thus allowing for no goals to be scored against them during a tight game.
On the flip side, if it’s an average/below average team, then it would obviously make sense to balance out the forward lines on the PK. Maybe, Barkov with D-Mac and Vinnie with Sceviour. Special teams are all about being strategic/creative, so mix matching and shuffling your guys around every now and then will only benefit you in these scenarios.
What I personally like about a duo of Trocheck and Barkov is the fit. More specifically, you have a player in Vinnie who can be the puck chaser, while causing havoc and chaos for the opposing team trying to break out/set up. On the other hand, you have Barkov who has the willingness to hang back and dump any loose pucks out of danger. Between the two, it would look as if killing penalties is nothing to them.
I am not saying that the two should be paired on every penalty kill, but what I am suggesting is that during crucial moments in a game, the two can definitely be counted on to kill a penalty and preserve a lead.