Florida Panthers: The Brilliant Reunion of Barkov and Huberdeau

SUNRISE, FL - FEBRUARY 3: Jonathan Huberdeau
SUNRISE, FL - FEBRUARY 3: Jonathan Huberdeau /

When the Florida Panthers were struggling offensively, Barkov and Huberdeau were placed on the same line again, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Since the beginning of their careers, forwards Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau have always been on the first line together for the Florida Panthers.

For years, they’ve dominated up top for the Cats, putting up the numbers and helping each other develop their individual games. They were two peas in a pod, a battery pack, an inseparable duo until one decision was made last season.

With the offense struggling, Panthers head coach Bob Boughner knew he had to make a change. He implemented the unthinkable by splitting up Barkov and Huberdeau, shocking anyone who had watched these two together since they began their NHL careers. Weirdly enough, this was a blessing in disguise.

This move by the coach couldn’t have worked any better, as they individually continued to put up the numbers, increasing scoring throughout the lineup.

This arguably saved the season for the Panthers, as they had finally solved one of their main issues (depth scoring), pushing them to a surprising second-half run that landed them just short of the playoffs.

Later, as the 2018-19 season approached, coach Boughner left the lines intact, keeping the two superstars apart.

This eventually became a problem, as the offensive production wasn’t coming from everyone, especially with Vincent Trocheck’s injury.

Soon enough, the lack of production up front triggered a change in lines, resulting in the reunification of Barkov and Huberdeau once again.

Barkov and Huberdeau have always excelled playing together, especially going back to when Jaromir Jagr was the right-wing of that line.

Back to the beginning of last season, when they were paired up with Evgeni Dadonov, they were one of the most dominant lines in the league. In this sense, I would compare them to Crosby’s line, in how everything they touched turned to gold.

Now that they have an elite scorer like Mike Hoffman alongside them, this seems to be an unstoppable line that’s full of potential to do some damage across the league.

Although, surprisingly enough, it isn’t Hoffman who’s been putting up the numbers on this new line. It was one of the two original first line players who played on the left side: Jonathan Huberdeau.

Huberdeau had done something that I can’t even remember a Panther accomplishing. He’s now recorded multi-point outings in seven of his last eight games, earning the honor of the NHL’s third star of the week.

He’s finally become the superstar that everyone hoped he’d become. He was back on the top line, and the damage has just begun.

Additionally, Aleksander Barkov is living up to his normal expectations, posting point after point, while also playing a sound defensive game, continuing to prove to be one of the league’s best two-way forwards.

He brings these traits on the ice to the top line, moving the puck and stealing it away to dish to his linemates, while also thinking about the other side of the ice.

Finally, Hoffman has excelled all expectations that the organization had for him in this campaign. He helped in a big way by fixing the Panthers’ power play, continuing to put the puck in the back of the net, and most importantly, developing incredible chemistry with Barkov. And with Huberdeau now alongside, they seem almost impossible to stop.

But, the success of this trio is due mostly to the reunion of Barkov and Huberdeau, who have once again proved to everyone that they are excellent hockey players, that deserve to be together.

Their offense is unstoppable, their defense is unbeatable, and their chemistry is like no other. With this change to the lineup, the team is bound for continuous success offensively.

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The reunion of Barkov and Huberdeau was a genius move and has made wonders for the Florida Panthers offensively on the ice.