SUNRISE — When two players have not been on the same line all season, sometimes it takes a little bit before they find some chemistry when put together. When it comes to Sasha Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau, the Panthers do not have that problem.
Although Barkov and Huberdeau have been apart for much of this season — save for being on the top power play unit — they know each other extremely well.
“Maybe they are related, they do look a little alike,” Roberto Luongo joked about their on-ice compatibility a few years ago, comparing them to the Sedin twins in Vancouver.
“When it comes to the passes that they make, they think outside of the box. That’s why I say they remind me of the Sedins a little bit. When you expect them to pass, they shoot; when you think they’re going to shoot, they pass. That is what makes them so good.
“They are unpredictable and tough to defend. But you see when they are on a roll, they are shooting that puck with confidence.”
Huberdeau met with the media on Tuesday before Florida’s game against the New York Islanders and one reporter (who shall go unnamed) joked about Huberdeau and Barkov having to find some chemistry.
Trust us, it was a joke.
“I’m not worried about that,” Huberdeau said. “We can find each other on the ice and Duke has been playing well and creates some space out there. We will make it work. It’s important that we’re home for a while and we want to start out well.”
Florida coach Andrew Brunette switched a few things up during the second period of his team’s eventual 3-2 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night and putting Huberdeau and Barkov back together is usually a recipe for success.
It was on Saturday as the Panthers scored a pair of quick goals. Barkov kept his scoring streak alive at nine games.
”It’s fun, it’s never a bad thing to get to play with Barky,” Huberdeau said. “We changed some things, some lines up. We had a tough road trip but now we’re home … it doesn’t matter who you play with, you have to be good every night. And it just wasn’t the case during the trip. I’m excited to be back with Barky, to make it work and get a win tonight.”
— This will be the final game on the Islanders’ 13-game road trip to start the season. New York opens its much-anticipated new arena at the Belmont Park site on Saturday.
Brunette has been part of a long road trip before as a player in Chicago when the Blackhawks and Bulls had to vacate United Center for the circus.
But nothing like this.
“In Chicago, we were gone three weeks for the circus trip but we kind of came in a couple of times,” Brunette said. “Yeah, they’ve been on one heck of a milk run.”