SUNRISE, Fla. - After suffering back-to-back losses for the first time in almost a month, the Florida Panthers held an upbeat, physical practice on Wednesday morning at BB&T Center, using the time to focus mainly on one-on-one battles and creating a strong net-front presence.
"That's all it was today," Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. "It was about, you know, the first few drills were about driving to the middle of the net, getting in on the forecheck. Then the last couple drills were rolling off your check and beating your guy back to the net."
In both Sunday's 5-2 loss to Tampa and Tuesday's 3-0 loss to Dallas, the Panthers generated more shots on goal than their opponent - including allowing a season-low 19 shots to the Stars - but afterward pointed to the quality of chances they were giving up as the primary issue.
According to NaturalStatTrick.com, Florida has surrendered four goals and 19 shot attempts from high-danger areas (considered in the slot and around the crease) in their last two games.
"The chances that we give up are way too quality of chances," Panthers center Vincent Trocheck said. "We might give up six or seven, but five of them are right in the slot…We're doing a good job of limiting the chances, it's just the ones that we give up have got to be less-quality chances from the outside."
After being shut out for the first time this season, Boughner also took some time to address the offense during practice. Showing video clips of every goal that was scored around the NHL on Tuesday night, he wanted his team to recognize one detail - most goals aren't pretty looking.
"I clipped it down to probably 10, 12, 13 clips, whatever it was," Boughner said. "There weren't any pretty ones. It was just about first shot to the net, beating your guy back to the net and paying the price to score. That's what we've got to do more of."
Still in the midst of a 6-4-0 stretch, the Panthers will look to get back in the win column against a tough Flames team on Thursday. Their 12th straight game against a team holding a playoff spot, Florida suffered a 4-3 loss in Calgary on Jan. 11 in their only previous meeting this season.
The Flames, who own the league's third-ranked offense, have lost their last three games.
"We're going to have to be ready right from the drop of the puck," said Panthers winger Mike Hoffman, who leads the team in goals (25) and power-play goals (11). "We had a good practice here today, worked on a few things. We're obviously going to try and score a few more goals. We're going to need a full team effort for 60 minutes. Everyone's going to have to contribute."
Boughner provided updates on several injured Panthers following Wednesday's practice.
After missing the last four games with a lower-body injury, rookie forward Jayce Hawryluk was a full participant in today's session. Yet to be cleared, the 23-year-old has registered three goals and two assists in 19 games with Florida since being recalled from AHL Springfield on Dec. 15.
"I liked how he looked today," Boughner said of Hawryluk.
Meanwhile, defenseman MacKenzie Weegar (illness) didn't join the team for practice but did take the ice after the official session had wrapped. "He's getting over his illness. Hopefully he feels better today," Boughner said. He has one goal and six assists in 44 games this season.
"He'd been doing a good job lately, right before he went down," Panthers defenseman Mark Pysyk said of Weegar, who is in this second full season with Florida. "He's definitely missed. We're excited for him to get back. He skated today, so I think he's getting close."
As for Colton Sceviour, who has missed the last two games with an upper-body injury, the versatile forward and penalty killer is unfortunately expected to be out of action for a while.
"I'm going to say 5-6 weeks," Boughner said of Sceviour's recovery timetable.
Evgenii Dadonov (illness) and Roberto Luongo (maintenance) were also absent from practice, but both are expected to be ready to go for tomorrow's important matchup against Calgary.
WEDNESDAY'S PRACTICE LINES
Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Frank Vatrano
Jayce Hawryluk - Vincent Trocheck - Mike Hoffman
Henrik Borgstrom - Derick Brassard - Denis Malgin
Micheal Haley/Jamie McGinn - Riley Sheahan - Troy Brouwer
Keith Yandle - Aaron Ekblad
Mike Matheson - Mark Pysyk
Ian McCoshen/Bogdan Kiselevich - Josh Brown
Roberto Luongo (maintenance day)