In today's Baptist Health Practice Notebook, the Panthers are feeling reinvigorated after a good practice on Tuesday, Sergei Bobrovsky is nursing an injury and Brian Boyle returned to practice.
CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. - Eager to get their playoff push back on track, the Florida Panthers looked rested and reinvigorated during an upbeat practice at the Panthers IceDen on Tuesday.
"It was a great day for our team," said Panthers forward Erik Haula, radiating confidence after getting off the ice. "I think we did get a lot better today. There are some areas that we clarified. I think the Panthers got better today, and I think you're going to see a different team Thursday."
Like Haula, Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said the team's enthusiasm was noticeable.
"I thought their work ethic was good," Quenneville said. "The tweaks were something that we were talking about that could help us. As you go along here, we're going to need everybody."
Sitting at 33-26-7 with 16 games remaining on their schedule, the Panthers currently trail the Toronto Maple Leafs by five points for third place in the Atlantic Division. The two clubs also have one more head-to-head matchup remaining, a clash at Scotiabank Arena on March 23.
Working to snap out of a seven-game winless streak in Sunrise, the Panthers will have two days of practice to gather themselves and make some adjustments before closing out their five-game homestand with contests against Boston and Montreal on Thursday and Saturday, respectively.
Prior to that skid, they were one of the league's best teams on home ice with a record of 16-8-2.
"We've got to fine-tune our game," Quenneville said when asked what the team needs to do to break out of its current slump. "The last couple games we got really loose in our own end, and I think our overall game's got to be tightened, assured and [we've got to have] a lot of trust in how we play without the puck. Defensively, we've got to be predictable and accountable.
"Let's make sure that we're doing the little things right. Offensively, we've still got a little freedom to go. Let's make sure that -- whether it's checking, playing the score, or the time on the clock -- we need to find a way to get on the right side of the score at the end of the game. And, hey, we've got to show each other how important it is to get back in that race."
After taking Monday to "get out of the game a little bit," Panthers defenseman Anton Stralman said some time away from the rink was a good way for players to clear their heads. And with a playoff spot still up for grabs, this week's practices will be key in order for them to right the ship. It's going to be a daily grind until the end of the season, and today was a step forward.
"It's definitely important that we work on some of our issues, mostly defensively," Stralman said. "This is a good opportunity for it. There's a lot of hockey left in the season. There's a bunch of tough games coming up, so we need to prepare as well as we can. Today was a good step."
Sergei Bobrovsky was absent from today's practice.
Dealing with a lower-body injury that he "tweaked" during warm-ups right before Florida's 3-0 loss to Calgary on Sunday, the 31-year-old goaltender is currently considered as a day-to-day.
Heating up as of late, Bobrovsky was 3-2-1 with a .921 save percentage over his last six starts.
"We'll have a better idea of what the situation is tomorrow," Quenneville said.
With Bobrovsky on the mend, the Panthers recalled Chris Driedger from AHL Springfield this afternoon. Working his way back from a lower-body injury suffered during a 4-3 win over Los Angeles on Jan. 16, the 25-year-old had been on a conditioning assignment since Feb. 26.
Driedger made one rehab start with the Thunderbirds before his recall.
"He played one game," Quenneville said. "I think that's a big step to take…. We want to see him back here knowing he's had that experience. We'll get him back here and then sort things out."
Playing great prior to the injury, Driedger has suited up in nine games with Florida this season, going 5-2-0 behind a stellar .932 save percentage, 2.35 goals-against average and one shutout.
BOYLE AT PRACTICE
Brian Boyle also appears to be making good progress in his return from an injury.
Last taking the ice on Feb. 1 in Montreal due to an upper-body injury, the 6-foot-6, 245-pound forward, sporting a bright yellow no-contact jersey, was a full participant during today's practice.
"He looked good," Quenneville said. "I was surprised how well he was skating. He did well. It's nice to have him back in the mix and on the ice. He brings a real good attitude. I think we missed his presence here as well. Good to see the big guy back."
After signing a one-year deal with the Panthers on Oct. 20, Boyle has provided the team with both production and a veteran presence. In 39 games, the 35-year-old has tallied 15 points (six goals, nine assists), 34 blocked shots and 65 hits, while also winning 52.4 percent of his draws.
Quenneville said an update on Boyle's status should be available in the coming days.
TUESDAY'S PRACTICE LINES
Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Evgenii Dadonov
Frank Vatrano - Erik Haula - Mike Hoffman
Dominic Toninato - Lucas Wallmark - Brett Connolly
Colton Sceviour - Noel Acciari - Mark Pysyk
MacKenzie Weegar - Aaron Ekblad
Riley Stillman - Anton Stralman
Keith Yandle - Mike Matheson
Extras: Aleksi Saarela, Josh Brown