Here’s an interesting stat — after 13 games, the Florida Panthers don’t have a single forward who’s averaging less than 10 minutes of ice time.
That compares to last season, when enforcer/media critic Krys Barch averaged just 5:58 in 55 games, and the season before that, when tough guy George Parros was playing a similar pugilistic role.
Tuesday against San Jose, the Panthers got two goals from its fourth line of Tomas Fleischmann, Derek MacKenzie, and Shawn Thornton in a 4-1 win over the Sharks. No Florida forward played less than 12:28 that night.
“We’ve got four lines that can play,” new coach Gerard Gallant said Wednesday, per Fox Sports Florida. “Our so-called fourth line went out and scored two goals last night. People call it our fourth line but it isn’t a fourth line and I’ll say that all year.”
Thornton, after the Bruins decided not to re-sign the popular winger, has skated 10:28 per game for the Panthers, the least of any Florida forward.
Not that rolling four lines is some sort of wild and crazy strategy. More and more teams are doing it. Or, at the very least, would like to do it. Hence, the dwindling number of line-ups that feature a designated fighter.
According to hockeyfights.com, the Panthers have only had three fights this season — one by Thornton, another by MacKenzie, and one more by Erik Gudbranson.