Every time the Stanley Cup Playoffs roll around, one of the most classic hockey sayings comes out, “You must have depth. Depth is what takes you far in the playoffs.” Until the past few years, the Panthers were unfamiliar with that concept. While they have always had some super-stars up top, and there was not a whole lot there when it got down to the nitty-gritty side of the roster. Now, the Florida Panthers roster depth is arguable the best in the league. With guys contributing night in and night out, the Panthers’ “grind line” of Patric Hornqvist, Eetu Luostarinen, and Ryan Lomberg genuinely complements the Florida Panthers’ depth.
Florida Panthers Depth Leading To Success
When you are pre-scouting any team, there are many things to look for. Whether it be the opposition systems for breakouts, transitions, or even zone entries and exits; The players are the main thing you’re looking at, of course. In comparison, many people will automatically recognize the super-stars on each team. But the people that take depth players into account are the ones truly paying attention.
If you are looking at the Panthers line-up, one can’t help but find themselves circling the line consisting of Hornqvist, Luostarinen, and Lomberg. Deemed the “fourth line” according to DailyFaceOff.com, this line combination is one of the more consistently played lines for this Panthers offence. While they may not score every night, you will find 70-27-94’s numbers all over the scoresheet in, just different areas. With a total of 86.1 game minutes played together, third-most on the team, this Panthers energy line is one of the more efficient lines in the NHL.
Some may argue that it only matters about who produces at the end of the day. While this isn’t entirely false, it is very short-sighted. Players can do thousands of other things during a game to lead to a team’s success. As of Wednesday, this line combination has incredible possession numbers. Don’t get me wrong, 86 minutes worth of gameplay isn’t a ton, especially compared to many of the top lines in the NHL. We are not comparing the first line to a fourth line. However, when said “fourth line” is up there in analytics with some very high-end players, that is worth mentioning. Behind just the “Perfection Line” of the Boston Bruins in Corsi percentage. This “grind line” comes in with an incredible 64.6 Corsi For percentage. Playing 12 of the possible 25 games together, the reliance on this line does not stop there.
“Fourth line” Reliable on Both Ends of the Ice
While they may not have a clever nickname, at the moment, the combination of Luostarinen, Lomberg, and Hornqvist is a line that Panthers fans will get used to. Thanks to the 200-foot game that they all play. This line has become a favourite of head coach Andrew Brunette due to their relentless efforts. As one of the top teams in limiting Shot Attempts Against. This “Fourth Line” only has two goals against in all their games together. Allowing just 1.39 Goals Against Per 60 Minutes, this line can be relied on in tight situations. Playing with heart, emotion, and discipline (for the most part), they bring what every depth line is asked of. With three of the top 10 hitters the team has together on one line, this line can spark their team anytime they step on the ice.
On the other side, this line combination can also bring offensive action. As mentioned above, this line has some of the most physical players on the team mixed in one. Combine that with their speed and impressive hockey IQ; the Luostarinen, Lomberg, Hornqvist line creates offence almost as well as they play defence. They are accumulating an impressive Expected Goals Percentage at 65.7 percent. This line uses their physicality and energy to create time and space for themselves; this “grind line” has put together timely scoring efforts in recent matches, leading to impressive comeback wins. As the season progresses, this line trio will be relied on more and more. Games will grow with importance as the team approaches the playoff season, and the intensity will ramp up. As much as the team will need its stars to shine, the Florida Panthers’ depth players will be just as important.