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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Brandon Montour’s two-way production must arrive down the stretch

While we don’t often think of Brandon Montour as a blueliner who will put up a ton of points, we can’t ignore that outburst he enjoyed last season. In 2022-23, the then-28-year-old Montour had a breakout season, scoring 73 points and 16 goals while simultaneously snagging 90-plus blocks and hits for the first time since 2018-19. 

Montour also hit a career-high in average total ice time at 24:08, and he also finished 12th in the Norris Trophy voting. But this season, we haven’t seen Montour hit those numbers, even if he’s still logging 23:13 of average total ice time with an outstanding 58.6 Corsi For and 55.6 Fenwick For to go with an offensive zone starting percentage of 55.9 at 5-on-5.

The above numbers show us that the Panthers are still a highly effective team when Montour is on the ice. Further, his 1.9 defensive point shares are tied for sixth on the team, so his defensive play is more than helping the Panthers. But like Matthew Tkachuk and Oliver Ekman-Larsson, if Montour’s two-way production returns, Florida will more than benefit. 

Now, it’s all about taking a few more chances in games, especially when he has an open shot. So far this year, Montour’s 93 shots on goal are good for just 2.58 per game, down from 3.02 per game last season. While he’s only played in just 36 contests as of February 10th, he needs to get that number back up, and he could once again get closer to the 0.912 points per game he had last year, at least in the final eight weeks of the year. 

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(Statistics provided by Hockey Reference as of February 11th)