To truly appreciate Sam Reinhart’s breakout Florida Panthers season, go beyond the goals

So much talk surround Sam Reinhart and his breakout season with the Florida Panthers has understandably been about his ability to get the puck in the back of the net.

After all, Reinhart is just the second player in franchise history to score at least 50 goals in a season. With four games left in the regular season, Reinhart still has an outside chance of reaching Pavel Bure’s franchise mark of 59 goals (Reinhart is at 53) and make a run at becoming the sixth player in league history with 30 power-play goals in a season (Reinhart is at 27).

But sometimes lost in the mix of Reinhart’s season is his stellar play on the other end of the ice. In addition to being one of the top scorers in the league, Reinhart has evolved into a defensively responsible forward. He is a key cog in Florida’s penalty kill that is among the best in the league and he has been one of the NHL’s top defensive forwards at five-on-five play.

And it makes the fact that Reinhart is compiling so many goals an even bigger feat.

“That speaks to the way we try to play,” Reinhart said. “Everyone’s playing the same way. Everyone’s creating offense the same way — and it’s by not cheating the game. It’s coming back, being on the right side of pucks and creating ice that way. It fits in well into our system.”

Just how good has Reinhart been — and how much has he improved year over year in his three years with Florida? Consider the following.

When Reinhart is on the ice during five-on-five play, the Panthers are controlling 57.83 percent of all shot attempts. That’s the fourth-best mark among 90 forwards who have been on the ice for at least 1,000 minutes of five-on-five action this season. The three ahead of him: Edmonton linemates Connor McDavid and Zach Hyman (59.43 percent and 58.79 percent) and Carolina’s Martin Necas (57.93 percent).

Last season, the Panthers controlled 55.3 percent of shot attempts when Reinhart was on the ice. In the 2021-22 season, it was 56.69 percent.

The Panthers have surrendered just 32 goals when Reinhart is on the ice at five-on-five. Only five players — Los AngelesQuinton Byfield, Winnipeg’s Nikolaj Ehlers, Carolina’s Sebastian Aho, Winnipeg’s Mason Appleton and Seattle’s Jordan Eberle — have been on the ice for fewer.

Opponents have logged just 368 scoring chances and 138 high-danger chances when Reinhart is on the ice — both the lowest in the NHL.

And then there’s Reinhart’s prowess on both sides of special teams.

His work on the power play is well noted. He’s scored a franchise-record 27 goals and added another seven assists when Florida is playing a man up.

But Reinhart’s usage on the penalty kill is equally as impressive. He is one of two forwards in the league that ranks among the top 20 in time on ice both on the power play and penalty kill. The other is Minnesota’s Joel Eriksson Ek.

Overall, Reinhart has played 16th-most minutes shorthanded among forwards. The 15 ahead of him have an average of 13.2 goals among them — or about one fourth Reinhart’s total for the season. Only two of those 15 have eclipsed 20 goals: Erikkson Ek (30) and Boston’s Charlie Coyle (25).

And don’t forget that Reinhart is tied for the NHL lead with five short-handed goals — the New York IslandersSimon Holmstrom and Philadelphia’s Travis Konecny also have five. That’s one shy of tying Panthers single-season franchise record of six set by Tom Fitzgerald in the 1995-96 season.

“He’s playing both sides of the puck,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said. “Sam is a battler and he’s a team-first style player, and we’re just so fortunate to have him.”