When the Florida Panthers moved Sam Reinhart down from the first line to their third, they may have created one of the deepest lineups in the NHL.
And it has already been paying dividends.
In the past two games, Florida’s third line (which consists of Reinhart, rookie Anton Lundell and latest addition Mason Marchment) has combined for 10 points.
That output is the most out of any line on what is the hottest team in the NHL.
“I think now we have three lines that are pretty solid and dangerous,” Joel Quenneville said. “Sam gives us more possession time, I think his instincts defensively are outstanding and offensively I think he’s trending in the right direction”
After starting the season without a point, Reinhart picked up three points in his last two games — including his first goal as a Panther in Thursday’s 4-1 win over Colorado thanks to a stupendous play by Marchment.
“I think there might be some chemistry between him and [Lundell,]” Quenneville said when asked if Reinhart is more settled into the system.
”I think that line has been very useful for us.”
The two combined for Lundell’s first NHL goal in Tuesday’s win against the Tampa Bay Lightning when Reinhart found the rookie in the faceoff dot for a beautiful one-timer.
Through his first four games in the league, the 20-year-old Lundell has two goals and four points, leading all rookies in both categories.
“That kid is special, obviously,’’ Sasha Barkov said. “Seeing him playing in [the World Juniors] last year and the Finnish league, you see that the way he leads his team, he was 19 at the time, and he was leading his team from one victory to another, he was incredible.
“He’s doing the same thing here. He’s taking all the chances he’s getting. He’s a crucial player for us. He does all the important faceoffs, he kills penalties, he scores goals. That’s pretty special.”
Barkov, who is hosting Lundell at his home in Boca, is a crucial mentor for the rookie.
Quenneville has definitely noticed it.
“He’s got a good mentor,’’ Quenneville said. “He has him prepare breakfast and starts the day with him and he keeps him going. He follows the perfect pro.”
Lundell has picked up on those Barkov-like mannerisms on both the offensive and defensive ends of the ice, playing a crucial role on the penalty kill. He leads all Florida forwards in shorthanded time-on-ice with 15:36.
“He’s been solid, he doesn’t look like he’s a rookie,” Sergei Bobrovsky said of Lundell. “He’s very smart, he looks like he plays an experienced game, in the penalty kill he’s been great, he’s been great on the face-offs, he’s been a great addition to our team and he’s got so much in front of him as well.”
While the duo of Reinhart and Lundell was put together well before the game, the third member of the line was yet to be determined at points throughout the last couple of days.
Marchment looks like an answer, at least on Thursday.
After testing out Frank Vatrano and Patric Hornqvist on that line at times, it seems like Marchment fits like a glove at left wing.
Picking up an assist on Lundell’s first NHL goal and two assists in Thursday’s win, Marchment’s strength, skating ability, and sneaky good playmaking ability allows him to gel perfectly with his linemates.
“He gives us a different element, he’s got strength in the puck area, I think his play recognition and offensively he’s got a little more skill than you think,” Quenneville said. “He’s a big body and he gets to the front of the net and he plays the right way, it’s nice having a guy like that who can give us a different element up front.”
He showed that Thursday, beating out Samuel Girard in what could’ve been an icing call and sliding a slick backhand pass around a diving Gabriel Landeskog to find Reinhart for the opening goal of the 4-1 win.
“I think they all do something different, but Marchment gives them a different presence,” Quenneville said. “I think whether it’s net-front or along the boards making greasy plays.”
After being a healthy scratch for the first two games, Marchment earned himself a spot in the lineup, and by the looks of it a spot on one of the best third lines in the league.
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT PHILADELPHIA FLYERS
- WHEN: Saturday, 7 p.m.
- WHERE: Wells Fargo Arena, Philadelphia
- TICKETS: CLICK HERE
- TV/STREAMING: Bally Sports Florida
- RADIO: 99.9 FM-2
- 2021 regular season series: Did not play