Following numerous successful years as a valuable fourth-liner for the Boston Bruins, Noel Acciari has unexpectedly developed into a scoring weapon for the Florida Panthers.
The recently turned 28-year-old forward actually started the 2019-20 season on the fourth line for the Florida Panthers. Noel Acciari was certainly productive as the team’s primary 4th line center. Nonetheless, head coach Joel Quenneville decided to shake things up in terms of the line combinations.
As a result, Coach Q bumped Acciari all the way to the 2nd line, playing the wing position alongside centerman Vincent Trocheck. Since the change, Acciari has been on an absolute tear offensively.
In fact, Acciari would up scoring two consecutive hat tricks on home ice versus the Dallas Stars and Ottawa Senators, respectively. Moreover, he also potted a clutch third-period goal on the road against the Carolina Hurricanes, helping the Cats build a vital three-game win streak during those three games.
Furthermore, Acciari received the honor of being named one of the 3 stars of the week, scoring a total of 7 goals and 1 assist for 8 points in Florida’s three straight victories. Also, the former Bruin has since picked up key goals in divisional wins versus Montreal and Ottawa, as well.
Overall, while participating in a total of 40 regular-season outings, Acciari has produced an impressive slash line of 15 goals and 3 assists for 18 points. In essence, the American native has already established career-high marks in goals scored (15) and points (18) at the halfway point of the 2020 campaign.
Essentially, his emergence as a potent goal scorer was completely unforeseen. Nevertheless, the ex-Bruin has provided the Cats with an additional weapon offensively, producing 14 goals on even strength and 1 goal short-handed, as well. Also, Acciari remains one of the league leaders across the NHL with an absurd shooting percentage of 23.7% on the year.
Moreover, despite being a crucial goal-scoring weapon for the Panthers, Acciari has still maintained a consistent level of play on the defensive end, as well. While averaging roughly 15 minutes of ice time per night, the hard-working veteran has recorded career-high marks in blocked shots (64) and face-off winning percentage (50.5%).
In addition, Acciari has already recorded a whopping 72 impactful hits and more takeaways (19) than giveaways (13), thus far. The signing of Noel Acciari during the 2019 offseason was criticized by some, but now certainly appears as an absolute steal by General Manager Dale Tallon and staff.
If Acciari continues to provide consistent production on the offensive end, then Florida will likely keep him on their second line for the remainder of the season and potentially the playoffs – if they get there.
Coach Q will likely continue to depend on the reliable, two-way forward for even-strength production, important late-game face-off situations, and penalty killing opportunities throughout the course of the season.
Ultimately, Noel Acciari’s development into a productive offensive weapon will help to solidify the top-nine forward group. Therefore, the Florida Panthers will possess a stronger forward core, depending far less on their top line for scoring purposes.