In today's Baptist Health Practice Notebook, the Panthers talk about the challenge of following up a solid October, Jayce Hawryluk could miss a month and two other injured players practice.
CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. - The Florida Panthers are looking forward to some sunshine.
After spending nine of their first 13 games on the road, the team will now play 16 of its next 21 games on home ice, starting with a matchup against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night.
"We worked hard every game," Panthers winger Evgenii Dadonov said of the team's opening month and strong road trip after Friday's practice at the Panthers IceDen. "We're still adjusting to the system the coach wants, so we're still learning. I think we've improved our game."
The Panthers (6-3-4) wrapped up a four-game road trip with a 4-3 overtime win at Colorado on Wednesday. With that win, the team finished its long trek with five out of a possible eight points.
"Obviously, after a win, it was nice to come back and get some sun a little bit," said Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau, who scored the game-winning goal against the Avalanche. "Just driving back, it's always nice to be in warm weather. We relaxed yesterday, but not we're right back at it today at practice. We have got some time to rest and focus on tomorrow's game."
Currently sitting in the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, Huberdeau said that the team is happy with how it handled a very difficult October schedule. Of the 13 games they played in, 10 of them came against current playoff teams, including a pair of division leaders.
After a 1-2-2 start, the Panthers have gone 5-1-2 over their last eight games.
"It's always a tough month for us," said Huberdeau, who is tied with Aleksander Barkov for the team-scoring lead with 15 points. "We're on the road a lot, but I thought we competed hard and are in a good spot right now. Obviously you always want to be higher [in the standings], but we did a good job staying focused… We've got to focus on playing a full 60 minutes every game."
Looking at the team's performance as a whole thus far, there are some really promising stats that stick out. They're tied for the most unique goal scorers in the league with 17, while their 3.54 goals per game is good enough to put them in a tie for the sixth-best offense in the NHL.
The stat that really catches the eye, however, is the fact that they've found a way to earn at least one point in 10 of 13 games this season - including an eight-game point streak. As it stands right now, Florida's three regulation losses are tied for the fifth-fewest in the league.
"That's a pretty good stat when you look at the road schedule that we've had and the teams that we've played," Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said. "Some of the teams that we've played, when you look at the schedule, have gotten off to some really good starts. I thought that winning some of those games and getting points in them really put us in a decent spot where we're at."
That being said, as the calendar flips to November, Quenneville knows new challenges await.
"Every game's a new challenge," he said. "We see how competitive our division is and our conference. It's what's going to happen throughout the year, placing the value on, 'Hey, that was a good month, but let's not be satisfied.' That's the next thing we've got to focus on."
The Panthers own a 2-1-1 record at BB&T Center this season.
UPDATE ON HAWRYLUK
The news isn't good on Panthers winger Jayce Hawryluk.
Following today's practice, Quenneville announced that the 23-year-old will be out of action for roughly a month with an upper-body injury after absorbing a big hit from Avalanche defenseman Nikita Zadorov during the third period of Wednesday night's come-from-behind win in Colorado.
A second-round pick (34th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft, Hawryluk been heating up prior to the injury, posting one goal and two assists over his last three games. In eight games this season, he also chipped in 13 hits and five blocked shots while adding a lot of energy to the bottom-six.
"I thought he did a good job," Quenneville said. "I thought he came back in after not playing a couple games and gave us some energy. He did some good things, had some hits and some production in the one game. I thought he had purpose to his game and was on the right track."
TROCHECK, MATHESON PRACTICE
While Hawryluk will be missed, two other Panthers are inching closer to returning.
Vincent Trocheck and Mike Matheson both participated in today's practice wearing no-contact jerseys as they recover from lower-body injuries. Trocheck, who joined the team on its recent road trip, has missed the last five games, while Matheson has been sidelined for the past four.
Quenneville said neither player will take the ice against the Red Wings on Saturday, but with several days off after that, one or both could play against the Washington Capitals on Nov. 7.
"Next Thursday, we'll see," Quenneville said. "They could be options."
Although other players have been stepping up in their absence, both Trocheck and Matheson should provide big boosts to the lineup upon their return. When healthy, Trocheck has tallied a goal and five assists while averaging 19:28 of ice time in eight games. Matheson, meanwhile, plays a vital role on the penalty kill and has produced one assist and 13 blocks in nine games.
"A lot of guys are stepping up," Huberdeau said.