Florida Panthers GameDay
Sam Reinhart ready for first trip to playoffs — with the Florida Panthers
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SUNRISE — When looking at the Florida Panthers’ points leaderboards, it is easy to forget about Sam Reinhart.
Jonathan Huberdeau leads the pack after becoming the first Panther to score 100 points in a season on Tuesday; Sasha Barkov is second with a whopping 76 points in 57 games.
Then there is Reinhart — scoring 68 points in 67 games.
He has fit in quite nicely since being traded south from the Buffalo Sabres over the summer.
“He’s good everywhere,” Panthers coach Andrew Brunette said.
“He’s a very reliable two-way player and he’s very intelligent with an off-the-charts IQ. He’s one of the smartest players I have been around.”
Reinhart is in an unusual spot given how his career has gone.
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Prior to being traded to Florida this summer, Reinhart had 295 points in 454 regular season games during his career with Buffalo.
Those 454 games happened to coincide with what is now the league’s longest postseason drought.
Reinhart has yet to play in a playoff game.
“Unfortunately, the way my career has gone, I can’t quite comment on that,” he said when asked if a game had a playoff-like atmosphere back in February.
Despite the lack of experience in games like that, he has done well in his first-career playoff push.
Since making that comment on Feb. 16, Reinhart has 23 points (nine goals, 14 assists) in 22 games — third on the Panthers during that stretch.
“It’s something you want to be a part of,” Reinhart said. “You want to be playing hockey at the end of the year. I’m excited for the opportunity.”
Reinhart has been used in different places in the lineup, but the most prominent spot has been on the third line with Anton Lundell and Mason Marchment.
Lundell, in particular, is a player Reinhart has found a lot of chemistry with.
“He’s a really big part of the team,” Reinhart said.
“You put him in the middle and it opens so much for our team and I think we all know where we are in the lineup and how we can contribute on a nightly basis.”
The 20-year-old rookie has picked up a lot from Reinhart as well.
“He’s been a huge help for me this season, I’ve been playing with him almost the whole year,” Lundell said.
“You just see him every day and every game and he’s just ready to play. He plays the game so well. When you’re open, he will always find you. We have good chemistry and It’s really fun to play with him.”
With the Panthers’ playoff spot secure, Reinhart now has 12 games left to get ready for his first go-around in the big dance.
Florida has a six-point lead over the Toronto Maple Leafs for the top spot in the Atlantic Division, but he and the Panthers cannot ease up now.
“It’s the position you want to be in right now,” he said.
“We’re trying to fine-tune some things to be our best come playoff time. We’re just taking it day by day and trying to put ourselves in the best spot we could possibly be in.”
UP NEXT FOR THE FLORIDA PANTHERS
BUFFALO SABRES AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Friday, 7 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM, SiriusXM
- 2021 regular season series: Did not play
- Season Series — Florida leads 3-0: @Florida 7, Sabres 4 (Dec. 2); Florida 6, @Buffalo 1(March 7); Florida 5, @Buffalo 3 (April 3)
- All-time regular season series: Buffalo leads 52-45-5, 4 ties
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