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Florida Panthers Pregame: Barkov OK with not going to NHL All-Star Game

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Florida Panthers captain Sasha Barkov was not voted into the NHL All-Star Game as the final spot on the Atlantic Division team went to Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning. // Graphic courtesy @FlaPanthers

Florida Panthers center Sasha Barkov said Thursday that he was OK with not being elected into the final spot on the upcoming NHL All-Star Game.

Barkov’s coach says the snub — he lost out in an online vote to Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos — shows that the old ‘underrated’ tag may still apply.

“I am OK with it,” Barkov said following Florida’s morning skate before Thursday’s game against the host Edmonton Oilers.

“Thank you to everyone who voted for me. It was nice to see and I got a lot of nice messages.”

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By not going to Vegas, Barkov and the rest of his Florida teammates — save, of course, for Jonathan Huberdeau — will have a nice little break from hockey.

The Panthers play their final game before Pause 2.0 on Feb. 1 in New York against the Rangers. Florida will not play again until Feb. 16 against the host Carolina Hurricanes on TNT.

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That time off should be good for Barkov and the rest of his teammates as they gear up for the postseason.

“It’s a good time to relax and stay at home with my family,” Barkov said. “They are all here so I get to stay here with them for a bit. I will relax, train, go to the beach, whatever. It is going to be a nice little break. And, of course, I will watch Huby in Vegas.”

As for not being voted in, Andrew Brunette said Barkov’s ‘underrated tag’ must still be applicable “if he didn’t get voted in.”

Brunette was named coach of the Atlantic Division team which consists of 11 players in a 3-on-3 tournament format. Each of the eight divisional teams have to at least one representative which makes openings tight.

The Lightning ended up with three players, Toronto two.

“It is hard to believe that we don’t have him in the All-Star Game,” Brunette said of Barkov, last season’s winner of the franchise’s first Selke Trophy.

“Nothing against the other guys, but it is hard with so many deserving players. But he is such a great player that nobody really … you hear everyone talk about it and then you get moments like this where he doesn’t get voted in. That underrated tag is still there and it’s not fair to him. He deserves a lot more credit.”

MORNING SKATE NOTES

Brunette said that Patric Hornqvist would miss Thursday’s game after leaving on Tuesday with an upper body injury.

”We are hoping it won’t be too long,” Brunette said.

Florida will have Owen Tippett back in the lineup as well as Maxim Mamin.

Mamin was put onto the taxi squad on Monday clear a roster spot.

“We’re trying to get more people into the lineup, (Mason Marchment) had not played so we wanted him in there,” Brunette said. “We have a lot of really good players which is fortunate for a coach. There’s going to have to be some selflessness on their part.

“We have to move players in-and-out and it isn’t always going to be fair or perfect. This is the situation we’re in and it’s just part of being on a really good team.”

Frank Vatrano will be Florida’s healthy scratch.

Sergei Bobrovsky will be back in net for the Panthers on Thursday night.

FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK

FLORIDA PANTHERS AT EDMONTON OILERS

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