With Panthers on best start in history, their top defenseman is ‘meeting the challenge’

It’s hard to find a key shift when Aaron Ekblad is not on the ice. The Florida Panthers defenseman, now in his seventh NHL season, is honing in on his all-around game, and his presence has been well noticed through the Panthers’ franchise-record 5-0-1 start to the season. And while most of the new guys — the Carter Verhaeghes, Anthony Duclairs and Patric Hornqvists of the roster — are getting the bulk of the attention, it’s hard to downplay Ekblad’s contributions early this year. The simplest evidence: The sheer amount of time he’s on the ice each game. Heading into Tuesday’s set of games, Ekb…

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