5 Florida Panthers players who must bring their A-Game down the stretch

The Florida Panthers are so close to becoming the undisputed top team in the Eastern Conference, and five players must take charge to make that happen.
Jan 26, 2024; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Florida Panthers left wing Matthew Tkachuk (19) at the
Jan 26, 2024; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Florida Panthers left wing Matthew Tkachuk (19) at the / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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Time for Oliver Ekman-Larsson to go on a roll

Oliver Ekman-Larsson is leading all Panthers defensemen with 25 points and nine goals, and the two-way blueliner is on pace to have his most productive season from a points perspective since he scored 44 back in 2018-19 with the Arizona Coyotes. 

However, he’s well off of his career-high of 55, which the 32-year-old hit in 2015-16. But Ekman-Larsson doesn’t need to score another 30 points in the Panthers final 30 contests to catapult this team over the next two months, even if it would provide a sensational help. 

But if he gives Florida just 0.75 points per contest and if they continue to remain in the top-five (currently second) in goals allowed, that little bit of impact, considering he’s currently at 0.47 points per game, will make everyone’s job easier. 

While you want to see him invading scoring lanes and providing some help when the Panthers don’t have the puck, his strength this season has been when his team is in the offensive zone. His Corsi For at 5-on-5 sits at a career-best 55.9, and his Fenwick For is also up there at 53.6. 

Tack on the fact Florida’s offensive zone starting percentage is 58.1 when Ekman-Larsson is on the ice, the recipe for success is there. If he takes as many shots at the net as he had done during his more productive seasons in the past, Ekman-Larsson will make a huge impact for Florida over these next eight weeks.