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Florida Panthers Try to Jump Start Offense with New Top Line

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The Florida Panthers had a new top line at practice on Monday in Dallas as Anton Lundell and Sam Reinhart were put back with center Sasha Barkov. — Photos by Roger Lee Photographer (561) 866-2000

The Florida Panthers returned to the scene of the crime Monday as they practiced at AmericanAirlines Center where they lost 5-1 to the Stars a few hours prior.

And, coach Paul Maurice seems intent on not only trying to jumpstart his team’s offensive production but also get three of his underperforming forwards going with a new top line.

According to Panthers’ team reporter Jameson Olive, Maurice had Sasha Barkov centering Anton Lundell and Sam Reinhart on Monday.

With Lundell up on the top line, Florida had to switch some other things around, obviously.

The Panthers certainly need all three to get going (they have a combined 25 goals in the first half of the season) if their offense is going to get going.

“Those two guys together,” Maurice said of Barkov and Lundell, “just to get a good feeling on the ice. Get something going with those two guys.

“Verhaeghe, Bennett and Tkachuk have had really strong games … I like the size on it. They kill penalties together so there is a defensive mindset there. Just trying to balance that all out.’’

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Added Lundell: “Two great players out there and with Barky, that’s something you always want to do. I just try to do my best, make plays, make space and just try to help us as much as I can. I think we think the game very similarly and that will help. He is such a good player, if I am open … we’re just trying to get the chemistry going.”

Bringing Lundell up to play with Barkov is not a new idea and neither is having Reinhart on the right side of him.

Florida opened training camp by having the young center playing alongside Barkov in an experiment the Panthers ended up moving away from.

”I just want to see it,” Maurice said.

Barkov was certainly all for it.

”I don’t know what’s going to happen,’’ Barkov said at the time, “but for right now, I am enjoying it.

“Having a player with that sort of skill set on the wing and the way he thinks the game is great. I played a lot with him on the penalty kill last year we did well together. We understand each other very well. He sees me and I see him.

“We read off each other very well. But playing wing is new to him and I don’t think he has really ever done it. It takes some getting used to, but having a player like that on the same line is amazing.”

As the time, Lundell talked about how the Panthers knew he was a natural center but was open to the idea of playing on the wing.

Florida is not as deep as it had hoped up the middle, but with Colin White having played center for much of his time in Ottawa, he will take over the fourth line at least for now with Eric Staal sliding up.

Nick Cousins or Eetu Luostarinen could also play center on the fourth line if Florida feels the need to see something different.

Right now, the Panthers have to find some lines which can create some offensive zone time and — they hope — put some pucks in the back of the net.

Barkov has not scored since his hat trick against Montreal five games ago. Reinhart has not scored in his past eight games, Lundell in 10.

“You sit beside the bench together talking hockey you will build chemistry,’’ Maurice said. “The penalty kill or 5-on-5 shifts, spending time together — especially guys trying to find their game a little bit — can almost come out of it together.’’

PANTHERS ON DECK

FLORIDA PANTHERS AT COLORADO AVALANCHE

  • When: Tuesday, 9:30 p.m.
  • Where: Ball Arena, Denver
  • Streaming ONLY: ESPN+/Hulu
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
  • Last season: Split 1-1
  • All-time regular season series: Colorado leads 26-11-5, 3 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Thursday at Vegas, 10 p.m.

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