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Cats and Coffee: Trocheck impresses in LA

by Jameson Olive / FloridaPanthers.com

NHL All-Star Post Game: Trocheck

NHL All-Star Post Game Interview: Vincent Trocheck

Vincent Trocheck speaks after the 2017 NHL All-Star Game

  • 01:19 •

Good morning and welcome to "Cats & Coffee," a weekly segment presented by Community Coffee in which we get you caffeinated with an exciting look at the week ahead for the Florida Panthers.

No money? No problem!

Although he didn't walk away with a share of the $1 million grand prize, Florida Panthers center Vincent Trocheck is undoubtedly heading home with a big smile on his face after accumulating a wealth of memorable moments at the 2017 NHL All-Star Game on Sunday in Los Angeles.

"It's been a blast," Trocheck said of his first All-Star Weekend experience. "Never in a million years did I think that I would be here right now. It's a ton of fun. Just watching everybody out there, I was a little bit star-struck. It was nice to be a fan every time I was on the bench, even in the skills competition, just watching everybody go out there and do the things that they do. It was pretty exciting."

As one of the league's up-and-coming talents, Trocheck did far more than stargaze throughout an unforgettable weekend in the City of Angels, making a name for himself through his signature blend of charisma and skill in both the NHL All-Star Skills Competition and NHL All-Star Tournament.

In the All-Star Skills Competition, Trocheck posted a time of 13.320 to win his race against Philadelphia's Wayne Simmonds (13.650) in the Fastest Skater event. In the Skills Challenge Relay, he buried his only one-time attempt from the top of the faceoff circle. In the shootout, he was stopped by Sharks goaltender Martin Jones, but his Atlantic Division squad nevertheless came out victorious.

"I had a lot of fun," said Trocheck, who leads the Panthers with 34 points this season. "I was able to go in a few [skills] competitions and do alright, so I'm just glad I didn't fall. I don't think there was any one part that was my favorite. I think the whole thing was just exciting. I was having fun watching."

As winners of the skills competition, Trocheck's Atlantic Division team chose to face-off against the Metropolitan Division in the first round of the 3-on-3, winner-take-all All-Star Tournament. Unfortunately, that choice ultimately proved to be unwise, as the Metropolitan eliminated the Atlantic 10-6. 

Video: MET@ATL: Trocheck one-times home Kucherov's nice dish

Trocheck, however, shined in defeat, recording four points (1-3-4) while playing on a three-man unit consisting of himself and intrastate rivals Victor Hedman and Nikita Kuchverov of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"The Florida Connection," Trocheck, grinning ear to ear, deemed the line.

"They're both really good players. [Hedman] is enormous. I mean you don't realize how big he is until you stand right next to him, and he's six feet taller than me. [Kuchverov] is as skilled as anybody in the league. It was fun to kind of just mess around with them and see what they can do."

With a wild weekend now in his rearview, Trocheck is admittedly already turning his attention to the road ahead, as the Panthers (21-19-10) will host the Ottawa Senators and Anaheim Ducks in the coming days, before spending some time away from the rink for the league's mandated bye week. 

"The more frustrated you get, the more it kind of spirals downhill," Trocheck said of Florida's struggles. "It's something that we've got to kind of knocked out of our heads and maybe use this All-Star break -- we have a bye week, too, coming up -- so maybe use these two [breaks] to kind of regroup and clear our heads and use it as a fresh start." 

Here's everything you need to know for the week ahead…

JAGR HONORED

To commemorate 100 years of NHL hockey, the league honored the 100 Greatest NHL Players of all-time in a special ceremony on Friday to kick off the All-Star Weekend.

To no one's surprise, Jaromir Jagr made the list.

"It's very special, there's no question about it," Jagr said. "If you don't know history about hockey, you're never going to be a good hockey player. You've got to appreciate those guys that played before us. They made the game better. They were perfect examples for us. Most of them were idols for us. We learned to play hockey because of them."

A fixture on Florida's top line for the better part of the past three seasons, Jagr, 44, has been a milestone machine since arriving to the Panthers, climbing the NHL's all-time leaderboards to the tune of 1,897 points (second all-time), 758 goals (third all-time) and 1,139 assists (fifth all-time). 

For a more in-depth look at Jagr's storied career, make sure to check out this special feature from NHL.com.

THE GAMES

Tuesday: Ottawa Senators, 7:30 p.m.

The Panthers will look to gain some ground against a divisional rival when the Senators (26-15-6) visit the BB&T Center on Tuesday. The Panthers, who trail Ottawa by six points in the Atlantic Division, will need their sixth-ranked penalty kill (84.1 percent) to remain stalwart in this contest, as the Senators enter this matchup having scored a power-play goal in three of their last four games. As it has been in nearly every game for the past month, look for Vincent Trocheck to be the spark that ignites Florida's offense, as the 23-year-old center has tallied 18 points (10-8-18) in his last 15 games.

Panthers vs. Senators this season: 1-1-0
TV: FSF English: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 640 WMEN (Palm Beach); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys); 1370 WAXE (Treasure Coast); Spanish: 990 WMYM (Dade/Broward; 760 WEFL (Palm Beach)

Friday: Anaheim Ducks, 7:30 p.m.

The Panthers will have a chance to enter their final elongated break of the season on a high note when the Ducks (27-15-9) visit the BB&T Center on Friday. The Panthers, who owned a 0-1-1 record against Anaheim last season, will need their power play to be on point in this contest, as the Ducks have killed off 24 of their last 25 penalties. With that in mind, look for Jonathan Marchessault to cause a lot of chaos when the Panthers have an extra attacker on the ice, as the 26-year-old winger is tied with defenseman Keith Yandle with a team-high 11 power-play points this season. 

Panthers vs. Ducks this season 0-0-0
TV: FSF English: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 640 WMEN (Palm Beach); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys); 1370 WAXE (Treasure Coast); Spanish: 990 WMYM (Dade/Broward; 760 WEFL (Palm Beach)

MILESTONE WATCH

- Panthers forward Reilly Smith is one assist away from 100 for his career.

- Panthers goaltender James Reimer is one win away from of 100 for his career.

- Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr is three points away from 1,900 for his career.

- Panthers forward Jared McCann is three games away from 100 for his career.

- Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle is six points away from 400 for his career.

- Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo needs six victories to surpass Curtis Joseph for sole possession of fourth place on the NHL's all-time wins list.  

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

"It's time to turn the page away and just keep going. It's a big win for us and the break's going to be huge for us. Everybody's going to get back healthy and come back strong." - Panthers forward Jonathan Marchessault on pushing for a playoff spot.

"Him and I talked yesterday. I thought he was putting way too much pressure on himself to get us out of this hole that we're in. I told him to go out and play your game. I look at him as almost an extension of the coaching staff -- he's so smart. Hoping that goal will loosen up his hands and he'll be able to relax a little bit over the break and then come back really ready to get us going." - Panthers general manager and interim head coach Tom Rowe on Jussi Jokinen.

"Towards the end of the season you've got to win games on special teams. I thought when we got our plays in the beginning of the game we did a lot of good things, got good momentum for our team. We weren't able to score, but to find the one in overtime with a huge goal by [Jonathan Marchessault] is huge for our group." - Keith Yandle on the performance on Florida's special teams in Thursday's victory over Tampa Bay.

COLD COFFEE (IN CASE YOU MISSED IT)

-- What's it like being the new guy at NHL All-Star Weekend? Vincent Trocheck shared his first-hand experience of the event in a series of special diary entries for NHL.com.  

Entry No. 1: A Family Trip 

Entry No. 2: Skills Competition 

- How did Vincent Trocheck feel in the days before heading to his first NHL All-Star Game? Find out in our exclusive Q&A with Florida's rising star. 

- The Ontario Hockey League's Saginaw Spirit will retire Vincent Trocheck's No. 89 in a pregame ceremony prior to their game against the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds on Wednesday, February 1. 

-- Need to get a present for that special someone in your life? The Panthers' Valentine's Day ticket package, which starts at just $29,is now on sale!

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