Florida Panthers

What does Panthers’ rout of Kings mean heading into NHL trade deadline?

Florida Panthers Henrik Borgstrom (95) grabs Ian McCoshen (12) after McCoshen scored the Cat’s sixth goal of the game in the third period as they play the Los Angeles Kings at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, Saturday, February, 23, 2019.
Florida Panthers Henrik Borgstrom (95) grabs Ian McCoshen (12) after McCoshen scored the Cat’s sixth goal of the game in the third period as they play the Los Angeles Kings at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, Saturday, February, 23, 2019. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

And now, we wait.

The Panthers on Saturday routed the awful Los Angeles Kings 6-1. The Kings have lost seven straight games and have the worst record in the Western Conference, so the result wasn’t unexpected.

But the NHL trade deadline is Monday at 3 p.m., and it remains to be seen if Panthers GM Dale Tallon will be a seller, a buyer, make no deals at all or just some lateral moves.

Center Derick Brassard was held out of Saturday’s game, which could mean the Panthers are close to trading him. There have also been rumors that the Panthers could trade standouts such as Jonathan Huberdeau and/or Mike Hoffman.

While we wait out the deadline, here are four takeaways regarding the Panthers, all of them in the form of a question:

1: How did the Panthers do on this stretch of 12 home games in a span of 13 overall contests? The Panthers went 7-5-0, which really wasn’t good enough considering their place in the standings.

Two games stand out as ones the Panthers could have won, and that includes Thursday’s 4-3 loss to Carolina. The Panthers led 3-2 heading into the third period.

The other bad loss came on Feb. 5 as the Panthers again blew a third-period lead. They were up 2-0, but St. Louis rallied to win 3-2.

Had the Panthers held on in both of those games, this would have been a 9-3-0 home stretch, and those points would’ve helped immensely.

Meanwhile, other teams have made significant recent moves. Since Jan. 1 and entering this weekend, St. Louis (17-5-1), Carolina (16-6-1), the Islanders (14-5-3) and Philadelphia (13-7-2) have all been on hot streaks.

The Panthers haven’t been as fortunate.

2: The Panthers were keen on getting goalie Roberto Luongo his milestone win, right? Uh, not really. Luongo earned career win No. 484 against the Kings on Saturday, tying him with Ed Belfour for third place on the NHL’s career list.

“I didn’t even know until after the game,” Panthers coach Bob Boughner said when asked about the milestone.

Luongo added: “I’m not one for milestones, but it’s nice to get those recognitions.”

Luongo, who was on the bereavement list last week after he suffered a death in the family, had been out of the lineup for 11 days as James Reimer went 3-1-0 in his place.

“He was off for a few days, but he looked pretty calm,” Boughner said of Luongo. “He just keeps racking up those milestones. It’s nice to be a part of it, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.”

3: Who’s on the biggest hot streak? That would the captain, center Aleksander Barkov, who has six goals and five assists in his past four games. For the season, he has 25 goals and leads the Panthers with 64 points in 60 games.

He needs four more goals to pass his career record of 28 set in 2015-2016, and he’s also in line to win honors as the NHL’s top defensive forward.

4: Can the Panthers make the playoffs? They have a lot of work to do as they have just 62 points. Entering Sunday, they are 10 points out of the final wild-card spot, and they have to beat out four teams ahead of them in the standings: Philadelphia, Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Carolina.

Within their own Atlantic Division, there are four teams currently in playoff position: Tampa Bay, which is on a record pace that is likely to earn the franchise its first President’s Trophy as the NHL’s top team in the regular season, Boston, Toronto and Montreal.

In the Metropolitan Division, two teams currently in playoff position -- Washington Capitals (Carl Hagelin and Nick Jensen) and Columbus (Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel and their combined 50 goals this season) -- have been aggressive acquiring talent leading up to the deadline.

Which again begs the question as to what the Panthers will do before Monday’s deadline. Will they move up, down or sideways?

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