During the second intermission of Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres, Jonathan Huberdeau was asked whether he spoke to Sasha Barkov about surpassing him to become the Florida Panthers single-season scoring leader by Katie Gaus of Bally Sports.
“I didn’t really want to,” Huberdeau said.
Barkov was not upset to see his record fall, not when it was Huberdeau doing the breaking.
”I think it is tremendous,’’ Barkov said. “He is a tremendous player and he deserves it the way he has been playing. It couldn’t happen to a better guy. And, we have a lot of games left so it’s going to be a lot of fun to see where he ends up. I’m just lucky to be his teammate, to play with him and see him do this thing.”
Barkov held the Panthers’ single-season scoring record of 96 points for parts of three seasons and, depending on if and/or when the Panthers give huberdeau a contract extension, it’s a battle which could rage on for years.
That sort of back-and-forth between Florida’s top scorers in its history would obviously be a good thing.
Of course, with so many games remaining and Huberdeau scoring at the clip he is at right now — he has averaged 1.4 points per game over the past two months — whatever the record ends up will be hard to beat.
“He is unbelievable, the things he does on the ice and those plays,” Barkov said last week before Huberdeau set the scoring record with his second period goal on Sunday in Buffalo.
“He has scored a lot of goals as well. Seventy-something assists is unbelievable but 20-something goals isn’t bad either. I am really happy and amazed to see what he’s doing.”
Barkov and Huberdeau have been teammates, linemates and friends for much of the past nine seasons.
Huberdeau joined the Panthers in 2013 after being the third overall pick of the 2012 draft; Barkov joined the team to start the 2013-14 season after Florida made him the second-overall pick in 2013.
The two first met a few days after that draft, Barkov flying to South Florida for the first time for a development camp.
Huberdeau, who had just won the Calder Trophy for the league’s top rookie, was at the camp and apparently made quite the impression on Barkov.
Their friendship has only grown as they are now finally starting to taste some real success with the Panthers.
On Monday, Barkov was honored by the NHL as one of its Three Stars of the Week after he recorded eight points in four wins.
It was just one more accolade in a season full of accomplishments.
The list is growing — with 13 games remaining on the schedule.
Not only have the Panthers clinched a postseason berth, but they have also set the franchise record for wins (48) in a season and are a win against Toronto tonight away from having the most points in a single season.
Individually, Barkov is the fourth player to earn NHL honors; Sergei Bobrovsky was third star of March, Jonathan Huberdeau was a top star in January and Anton Lundell was rookie of that month.
In addition to that, 12 players have already set career-highs in scoring.
Some of the highlights of this season include:
— The Panthers had their longest winning streak to start a season (eight) as well as an 11-game home winning streak to kick off 2021-22 which tied an NhL record held since 1964.
— Florida also has a nine-game home winning streak which now ranks second-longest in club history.
— The Panthers lead the NHL with 284 goals scored, which surpassed the previous team total a few games ago.
— This is only the second Florida team to hit 100 points in a season.
— Huberdeau set the NHL mark for most assists by a left wing last week.
It has been a pretty good run already, but one the Panthers know will be for naught if they do not make a deep run in the postseason.
While these records and accolades are nice, they have bigger goals in mind.
”I don’t even know how many points we have,” Barkov said. “I do know it’s a lot and that’s because we’re playing really well. Our focus right now is getting our game better and stronger.’’