For years, Sasha Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau were all but inseparable on the ice with the Florida Panthers.
With rare exception, once Gerard Gallant put the two youngsters with Jaromir Jagr back in 2015, the Barkov-Huberdeau connection was one which fueled the Panthers.
Whenever the duo was broken up, inevitably, they would be put back together.
Only this season, Barkov and Huberdeau have pretty much been off doing their own thing. The addition of Sam Bennett — and his instant chemistry with Huberdeau — has allowed the Panthers to split the two up.
Sure, they play together on the top power play and sometimes their shifts accidentally leak into each other, but for the most part, the Panthers have kept them apart.
On this road trip, that has changed a little.
Although Barkov and Huberdeau have started on separate lines, slow starts by the Florida offense have led Andrew Brunette to put his big guys back together again as was the case Sunday night in Seattle.
Florida’s offense needed a little jolt, so Barkov and Bennett swapped lines with Huberdeau and Anthony Duclair going with Barkov.
Huberdeau got a power play goal to make it 3-2, Barkov scoring on a Huberdeau pass to tie the score in the second period.
Will that continue on Tuesday night in Winnipeg?
We shall see.
— Due to attendance restrictions in Manitoba, only 250 fans will be allowed in the building tonight. In Florida’s previous three games in Canada, capacity was limited to half.
This will feel a lot more like last season when empty buildings — or something close to it — were the norm.
“It’ll be a little bit different, a challenge for sure,” Andrew Brunette said when asked if it would be hard to get going in a quiet environment. “On the road, sometimes it is better in a quiet building. It presents its own challenge. We just want to get our game back on track, be ready to play.”
— In former Panthers news, Keith Yandle will become the NHL Iron Man when he steps onto the ice at Belmont tonight when the Flyers visit the Islanders.
Yandle, on a one-year deal in Philadelphia after being bought out by the Panthers, has played in 964 consecutive games and is currently tied with Doug Jarvis.
— Sergei Bobrovsky is back in net for the Panthers with Chase Priskie replacing Matt Kiersted on the defensive side, Maxim Mamin in for Frank Vatrano.
— Yesterday was report card time for the Panthers as FHN handed out its midterm grades.
— Tuesday will be the last game of this five-game road trip with the Panthers flying home on Wednesday and playing host to the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday.
Florida will host two of its former coaches — Pete DeBoer on Thursday, Bob Boughner and the Sharks on Saturday — before going back on the road.
The Panthers will visit Columbus and the New York Rangers (yeah, another former coach) before going into the All-Star break.
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT WINNIPEG JETS
- When: Tuesday, 8 p.m.
- Where: Canada Life Center; Winnipeg, MB
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM, SiriusXM
- NHL Betting Odds from BetUS: Florida favored (Money Line -165) — (Puck Line -1.5 +145) — Over/Under 6.5 (Even/-120)
- Last season: Did not play
- All-time regular season series: Winnipeg/Atlanta Thrashers lead 50-29-8, 5 ties
PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINEUP
11 Jonathan Huberdeau // 8 Sam Bennett // 10 Anthony Duclair
23 Carter Verhaeghe // 16 Sasha Barkov // 98 Maxim Mamin
17 Mason Marchment // 15 Anton Lundell // 13 Sam Reinhart
94 Ryan Lomberg // 27 Eetu Luostarinen // 74 Owen Tippett
52 MacKenzie Weegar // 5 Aaron Ekblad
62 Brandon Montour // 7 Radko Gudas
22 Chase Priskie // 32 Lucas Carlsson
72 Sergei Bobrovsky
30 Spencer Knight
Scratched: Joe Thornton, Frank Vatrano
Taxi squad: Matt Kiersted, Aleksi Heponiemi
Injured: Noel Acciari (LTIR), Markus Nutivaara (LTIR), Olli Juolevi (IR), Patric Hornqvist (d2d)
Covid Protocol: Jonas Johansson, Gus Forsling
PROJECTED WINNIPEG JETS LINEUP
9 Andrew Copp // 55 Mark Scheifele // 26 Blake Wheeler
81 Kyle Connor // 80 Pierre-Luc Dubois // 91 Cole Perfetti
25 Paul Stastny // 17 Adam Lowry // 22 Austin Poganski
12 Jansen Harkins // 21 Dominic Toninato // 93 Kristian Vesalainen
44 Josh Morrissey // 88 Nate Schmidt
5 Brenden Dillon // 4 Neal Pionk
54 Dylan Samberg // 88 Nathan Beaulieu
37 Connor Hellebuyck
30 Mikhail Berdin