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Wednesday Caterwaul: Florida Panthers Open Forum

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Idle Cats slip into last place in the Atlantic

NHL: Florida Panthers at New Jersey Devils Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Panthers continue to prepare for Thursday’s tilt with the Winnipeg Jets in Helsinki.

Yesterday, ESPN ran an article listing the NHL’s top-20 lines for the first month of the season and the Panthers troika of Aleksander Barkov, Evgenii Dadonov and Nick Bjugstad came in at number 11.

As the Panthers struggle to find a mix that works, this line should be their constant. In 45 games together dating back to 2017, they’ve generated 34 goals and a plus-11 goal differential. Thanks in part to Barkov’s Selke Trophy-worthy defense, they’ve also dominated possession in that stretch, despite starting just 44 percent of the time in the offensive end.

As I ponder where the team has been and is going under Dale Tallon’s stewardship, I’d say that Barkov (draft pick) and Dadonov (free agent signing) represent some of the best we’ve seen from Tallon during his time in Sunrise.

Last night’s games resulted in some shuffling at the top and bottom of the Atlantic Division. The Detroit Red Wings beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-3, leaving the Cats mired in last place. Florida is only a single point behind with three games in hand, so hopefully that’s just temporary, The Tampa Bay Lightning ripped the New Jersey Devils by an 8-3 count to leapfrog the Toronto Maple Leafs for first place.