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2018-19 Season Rewind: Vincent Trocheck

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

2018-19 Season Rewind: Trocheck

2018-19 Season Rewind: Vincent Trocheck

All goals from Florida Panthers forward Vincent Trocheck during the 2018-19 season

  • 02:15 •

The Florida Panthers were a different team without Vincent Trocheck this season.

Often described as "the engine of the team," the fiery forward suffered through one of the most difficult patches of his career during the 2018-19 campaign, missing 27 games after fracturing his right ankle on Nov. 19.

The injury occurred late in the first period against the Senators, when he fell to the ice in an awkward motion and twisted his right leg after chasing a loose puck behind the Ottawa net.

"When I first went down, I think I was reacting more out of fear than pain," Trocheck penned in his blog series for FloridaPanthers.com shortly after the incident occurred. "I was worried about a lot of things. I was worried about whether or not what just happened was going to cost me the season or, possibly, my career. I wasn't really sure of the significance of it all right away."

In the time he was out of the lineup, the Panthers struggled to string together wins, amassing a 9-13-5 record while scoring an average of 2.85 goals per game. Upon his return, however, the team improved, finishing the season 19-12-6 while averaging a whopping 3.43 goals per game.

For Trocheck, being unable to help his teammates was the hardest part of his recovery.

"It was difficult. It was my first time in my entire life dealing with a serious injury," Trocheck said after cleaning out his locker at BB&T Center on April 8. "Being away from the game for as long as I was, was not easy. Having to deal with it when I got back was tough as well. Obviously, it was a frustrating season for our entire team, not winning as much as we wanted to."

Despite being understandably limited by his injury, Trocheck managed to produce 34 points (10 goals, 24 assists) in 55 games, with his 0.62 points per game still good enough for fifth among the team's forwards. A major minutes eater down the middle, the workload Trocheck took off Aleksander Barkov's shoulders also became far more evident while he was out of commission.

Missing the two in their one-two punch at center, Barkov averaged a team-leading 23:35 of ice time per game while registering 27 points in the 27 games Trocheck was out. But following the return of the team's No. 2 pivot, Barkov really erupted as his minutes dipped to 21:22 per game.

Asked about his surge in production, Barkov pointed to Trocheck's return as a turning point.

"When Troch came back, I was a little fresher on the ice," said Barkov, who posted 52 points (18 goals, 34 assists) in 37 games following Trocheck's return to the ice. "I didn't have to play those big minutes. I think I was playing three or four minutes less than I played before that."

A blip on the radar of his promising career, Trocheck doesn't plan to take much from this past season, choosing instead to move on and focus on the road ahead. When healthy, the 25-year-old has already proven himself. He was an All-Star in 2017 and recorded 31 goals in 2017-18.

When questioned about his point total by a reporter, Trocheck scoffed and made it clear that the only number that he's concerned with is how many points the Panthers fell short of the playoffs.

"It was a frustrating season," Trocheck said. "Points-wise, it is what it is. I don't even know how many points I had. I missed three months. I am not really concerned about the production side. I am more worried about getting the team where we need to be, getting us on a winning track.

"When we are winning games, everybody is going to be doing well individually. Like we talked about this year, a lot of guys had career years and we didn't make the playoffs. Individual stats don't necessarily mean all that much."

Luckily, that playoff drought looks to be close to an end, as Trocheck believes the hiring of new head coach Joel Quenneville - who led the Chicago Blackhawks to Stanley Cups in 2010, 2013 and 2015 -- will "kind of whip us into shape" and help the Panthers get back to the big dance. In 20 full seasons as a bench boss in the NHL, Quenneville has reached the postseason 18 times.

Eager to get back to work, look for a now-healthy Trocheck to be a big part of that playoff push.

"Missing the playoffs is unacceptable, especially with the team that we have and the talent that we have," Trocheck said. "Going forward, I think now it's on us to realize what a talented team we do have, start maturing mentally as a team, take it to the next level and go on a run."

COOL STAT

Trocheck once again proved to be a cool customer in the faceoff circle.

Finishing above 50 percent for the third consecutive season, he managed to win 51.8 percent of his draws this season despite having to overcome a serious injury. A fixture on the penalty kill, he also won 53.2 percent of shorthanded faceoffs - a major asset to the team's 10th-ranked PK. With each of those faceoffs wins, valuable seconds of the opposition's power play ticked away.

Since the 2015-16 season, Trocheck ranks second on the team in total faceoff wins (2,733).

BEST GAME

Trocheck didn't waste any time in re-announcing his presence with the Panthers.

In just his second game back after returning from a broken ankle, Trocheck not only registered a goal and an assist, but also won a game-high 18 of 26 faceoffs and led the team's forwards with 22:03 of ice time in 4-2 victory over the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Jan. 19.

With the Panthers up 2-0, Trocheck jumped on a loose puck in the neutral zone and skated in all alone on a breakaway. After getting the goalie to bite on a fake to his forehand, he switched to his backhand and scored five-hole to extend the lead to 3-0 at 2:59 of the second period.

Video: FLA@NSH: Trocheck nets goal on breakaway

"I think the start was huge for us," Trocheck said after the game. "We've been preaching that all year, getting a hot start. Especially in a building like this, if they get a hot start that building gets behind them and they're tough to beat." Trocheck's goal eventually stood up as the game-winner, his first of the season.

GOAL OF THE YEAR

It's one thing to score your first NHL goal. It's another to hit triple digits.

Taking a pass from Barkov in the neutral zone, Trocheck blew past a pair of defenders before ripping a wrist shot into the net for a shorthanded goal that put Florida up 3-0 at 12:01 of the second period in their matchup against the Washington Capitals on April 1 at BB&T Center.

The goal was Trocheck's 100th of his NHL career.

"It was nice to be out there with Barky," said Trocheck, who later added to his total when he iced the game with an empty-netter. "He makes a lot of stuff happen. I feel like I get a lot of chances out there with him, even on the kill…. It's obviously nice to take a picture with the puck. It's not much. It's a milestone that I didn't think I'd ever reach, but hopefully there's a lot more to come." 

Video: WSH@FLA: Trocheck pots 100th NHL goal

Trocheck is currently tied for ninth in franchise history with 101 career goals.

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