When the Florida Panthers step on the ice tonight at BB&T Center, it will be the last time they do so until the fall.
There won’t be a playoff series this season for the third year running but rather a quiet send off and a season that will all soon be forgotten. The postmortems are surely coming. What went wrong, what were the positives and how can a team that appears to have some pretty solid talent figure out its issues in goal will all be discussed in the coming days and weeks.
But before garbage bag day takes place, the Panthers can help one of their stalwarts break a record that’s stood for nearly 20 years.
Aleksander Barkov enters Game 82 of the regular season with 94 points in the bag. His 34 goals and 60 assists are both career highs in what’s been an incredible personal season for the Finn.
And that season can gain an exclamation point beside it if Barkov is to notch a single point in their game against the New Jersey Devils. Barkov sits level with Pavel Bure for most points in a single season. Bure put up 58 goals and 94 points during the 1999-2000 season in his first full ride with the team.
Despite where the team sits heading into the final game, the points record is not lost on Barkov’s teammates.
“I told him that we’ve got to do it early, just get it out of the way,” Panthers forward Jonathan Boudreau said on Saturday morning. “Last game he didn’t get a point, but I feel we’ve got to get him a point and beat Bure. It would be great for him.”
If Barkov can get a point (and the odds are good with 10 points in 14 career games against the Devils), then it will be the second Bure record to fall this season.
On the other side of the continent, Bure’s rookie points record with the Vancouver Canucks was broken by Elias Pettersson last month. Bure had 60 points during his rookie year in 1991-92. Pettersson notched his 61st point on March 18 and has 65 now with a game to go.
It hasn’t been a kind year for the Russian Rocket, at least not in the record books. But it’s been a great season for two young players following in his wake.