The Florida Panthers seem to have found a (much) more talented version of Tomas Holmstrom in Aleksander Barkov. The second-overall selection from the 2013 draft has a handful of goals on the season, and they all seem to be coming from the same place out on the ice.
You’ll hear coaches telling their players to get to the net all the time. When a squad is struggling on offense, at least three of the forwards that respond to questions about it will say “well, we’ve just got to do a better job of getting guys to the net.” It’s easier said than done in the NHL.
It’s a tough place to make a living, and a price must be paid each and every time you get in close. Barkov clearly isn’t scared though. Despite turning 18 this past September, the teenage forward has no qualms about taking the whacks and slashes that accompany standing in front of or around the goal.
His tally against the New York Rangers tonight is just more proof of how interesting the skill set on this kid is.
With the Panthers trailing 1-0 and on the power play, Barkov quietly takes over. Not in a flashy Alex Ovechkin sort of way, but in a more subtle fashion. He shrinks New York’s penalty-killing box down as he slides down the right-side wall. Barkov’s quick stick handling forces the Ranger defenders to respect both the possibility of a shot and a pass, and the youngster ends up threading the needle just seconds later.
The low defenseman takes Barkov’s perfect pass in stride and launches a one timer at the net. After another Panther takes a falling swipe at the puck, the rebound pops back out to a sneaking Barkov, who’s made his way to the front of the net since snapping the pass off in the first place.
Barkov shoots. Barkov scores.
This is a great sequence and play for a kid that’s going to score a lot of goals in this league.