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Boyle Set to Make Panthers Debut Against Penguins

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

10/22/19 Morning Skate

10/22/19 Morning Skate

Interviews with Head Coach Joel Quenneville and forwards Mike Hoffman and Brian Boyle.

  • 01:50 •

SUNRISE, Fla. - Brian Boyle is planning to get to the rink "earlier than normal" tonight.

After joining the Florida Panthers on a one-year contract on Sunday, the 34-year-old center is itching to make his Panthers debut against the Pittsburgh Penguins at BB&T Center on Tuesday night.

"It's really exciting," said Boyle, who first practiced with the team on Monday. "It was a little tougher to fall asleep last night. There's a lot that goes into getting down here. A lot of people have done a lot for me to get down here. I'm thankful for them. I know there's a lot of people sacrificing so I get to do what I love to do. It's super exciting. I'm going to make the most of it."

At 6-foot-6 and 245 pounds, Boyle will add more than just a big body to Florida's lineup. As a veteran of 766 career NHL games - not including 114 in the playoffs - he also brings a wealth of experience and versatility to one of the league's up-and-coming cores of talented forwards.

Despite going unsigned this summer, he was very productive the last time we saw him on the ice in 2018-19. Appearing in 73 games split between New Jersey and Nashville, he notched a combined 24 points (18 goals, six assists) while also winning 51.1 percent of his faceoffs draws.

Kicking off the 13th season of his career, Boyle said he doesn't expect any surprises tonight.

"Whatever the system is, I want to execute," he said. "It's not different. You want to have the puck more than they do. You want to create chances and not give any up. It depends on the situations… If it's a D-zone draw, you want to win it and get it into the O-zone. It's stuff like that."

At the moment, it's unclear where Boyle will be lining up against the Penguins.

Florida's top-two centers, Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck, were both absent from this morning's skate while dealing with injuries sustained over the weekend. Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said Barkov "is going to be fine," while Trocheck remains "questionable for tonight."

During Monday's practice, Boyle skated in Trocheck's spot on the second line.

"I think he gives us a lot of versatility," Quenneville said of Boyle. "He gives us some size in the middle, gives us a faceoff guy. He gives us a net-front presence on the power play. He can kill penalties. He's got experience and some serious playoff games on his resume as well. He brings a lot of ingredients that we think we can add to our team, and some leadership as well."

The Panthers (3-2-3) enter tonight's game on a five-game point streak after a 3-2 shootout win in Nashville on Saturday - the fourth time in the last five games they've played past regulation.

Against the Predators, Brett Connolly found the back of the net for the third straight game. Since joining Florida on a four-year deal this summer, the 27-year-old winger has gotten off to a very hot start, cracking the scoresheet in six of eight while racking up four goals and three assists.

"He's got a really dangerous shot," Quenneville said of Connolly, who scored a career-high 22 goals last season with Washington. "He's got a way of getting it through [traffic] or getting it off where there's a release that's tough to pick up for goalies. It's got a little more pace to it."

Sitting in second place in the Metropolitan Division, the Penguins (6-3-0) saw their five-game winning streak snapped in a 3-0 shutout loss to Vegas on Saturday. In that defeat, former Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury shut down his former team to earn his 57th career shutout.

"I think we did some good things, we just couldn't find a way to score," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby told reporters after the loss. "[Fleury] made some good saves. We had a couple that got behind him and hit posts. Some of those usually go in."

With several forwards missing from their lineup, Crosby currently leads the team in assists (8) and points (12), while Jake Guentzel paces the club in goals (5). Heading into tonight's game, Evgeni Malkin, Alex Galchenyuk, Nick Bjugstad and Bryan Rust are all listed on injured reserve.

Still, even with those injuries up front, the Penguins are averaging 3.56 goals per game.

"They're playing good hockey, no matter who's in or out of the lineup," Panthers defenseman Anton Stralman said. "They've still got some special players. We have to be ready for it… We've got some work cut out for us, for sure…. This is a good challenge. We're going to get tested."

Sergei Bobrovsky will start for the Panthers, while either Matt Murray or Tristan Jerry will be in net for Pittsburgh. So far this season, Murray has stared seven games to just a pair for Jerry.

Florida owned a 1-1-1 record against the Penguins in 2018-19.

"We talk about home ice and how important it is," Quenneville said. "We want to make sure that we establish that we're going to effective here at home and hard to play against here. We want to make sure that we maximize home ice… Let's value how we play and the importance of two points."

NOTES

-- Aaron Ekblad leads the Panthers and ranks sixth in the league in average ice time per game (25:20). The 23-year-old lead also leads Florida's defenseman in assists (5). The first-overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, he will be competing in the 400th game of his NHL career tonight.

-- Mike Hoffman paces the Panthers in goals (5), is tied for the lead in points (8) and sits second on the team in shots (26). The 29-year-old winger posted the best season of his career in 2018-19, reaching new highs in goals (36), power-play goals (17) and points (70).

-- MacKenzie Weegar has posted five points (two goals, three assists) in eight games. In the midst of his third full season with the Panthers, he posted 15 points in 64 games in 2018-19.

-- Evgenii Dadonov ranks tied for second on the Panthers in both goals (4) and points (7).

-- Dryden Hunt leads Florida in hits (21), while Noel Acciari paces the club in blocks (14).

-- Jonathan Huberdeau has registered at least one point in six of his last seven games and is currently tied for the team-scoring lead on the Panthers with eight points (three goals, five assists). In 2018-19, the 26-year-old winger set a new franchise record with 62 assists.

-- The Panthers lead the league in shots on goal per game (37.9).

-- Florida currently ranks sixth in the league in penalty killing with an 86.4 percent success rate.

PROJECTED LINEUP

Forwards

Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Evgenii Dadonov

Mike Hoffman - Brian Boyle - Brett Connolly

Frank Vatrano - Denis Malgin - Jayce Hawryluk

Dryden Hunt - Noel Acciari - Colton Sceviour

Defensemen

MacKenzie Weegar - Aaron Ekblad

Mike Matheson - Anton Stralman

Keith Yandle - Josh Brown

Goalies

Sergei Bobrovsky

Sam Montembeault

Scratches: Vincent Trocheck, Mark Pysyk

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

- Oct. 20: F Brian Boyle signed a one-year, one-way deal with the Panthers.

- Oct. 20: F Henrik Borgstrom was loaned to AHL Springfield.

IN-ARENA ACTIVATIONS

- 50/50 Raffle

- Student Rush 

- Nacho Tot Tuesday

- Coca-Cola Collectible Pin series begins with Sergei Bobrovsky

HOW TO WATCH / LISTEN

When: Tuesday, Oct. 22, 7:00 p.m. ET

Where: BB&T Center - Sunrise, FL

TV: FSF

Stream: FOX Sports GO 

Panthers Radio Network: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 640 WMEN (Palm Beach); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys); 1370 WAXE (Treasure Coast)

Tickets: HERE

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