In today's Baptist Health Practice Notebook, Vincent Trocheck appears ready to return to the Panthers lineup, Mike Matheson was thrilled to get back to work and Colton Sceviour talks about an impressive career milestone.
CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. - Even a thick Movember mustache couldn't conceal the smile that was glued to Vincent Trocheck's face throughout Friday morning's practice at the Panthers IceDen.
After missing the previous seven games while recovering from a lower-body injury, the Florida Panthers fiery centerman joined the rest of his teammates as a full participant during the entire session, ditching the yellow no-contact jersey he'd previously worn as he worked his way back.
"I feel pretty good," said Trocheck, who's recorded one goal and five assists in eight games this season. "It's nice to get back to practicing out there with the boys and feel that competitiveness again. It's nice to feel like you're going at full speed and being able to do things. It was fun."
Out of the lineup since scoring the game-winning shootout goal in a 3-2 win at Nashville on Oct. 19, Trocheck said he watched with excited anticipation as the team went 4-1-2 in his absence.
"They've been playing phenomenal hockey since I've been out," Trocheck said. "Obviously the streak that they went on was great. I was cheering for them the whole way. Any time you go down, you want to see the team do well and get that momentum going for when you get back."
In his return to practice, Trocheck was back centering Mike Hoffman and Brett Connolly on the team's second line. As for Brian Boyle, who registered two goals and two assists while doing a great job filling in at that spot over the previous seven games, he moved down to the fourth line.
When asked about Trocheck's availability moving forward, Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said he expects the 26-year-old to slide back into the lineup when the team kicks off a tough three-game road trip against the red-hot New York Islanders at Barclays Center on Saturday.
"He looked good," Quenneville said. "We're going to look to get him in tomorrow."
MATHESON GETS BACK TO WORK
With Trocheck's return on the horizon, the Panthers are getting closer to being at full strength.
During Thursday's 5-4 overtime loss to Washington, defenseman Mike Matheson was thrilled to get back to work after sitting out the previous five games while dealing with a lower-body injury.
In his return to the lineup, the 25-year-old lined up in his regular spot alongside Anton Stralman on the blue line, registering two blocked shots and finishing with a plus-one rating. With a lot of special teams play at both ends of the ice, he skated 23:01, including 3:38 on the penalty kill.
"It was nice," Matheson said of the game. "It took a little while to kind of get my timing back. I still think there were moments during the game where I wasn't kinda fully there timing-wise. But after a long time being out and away from the guys, it's always nice to get back in there. We love to play hockey games, and when you're not allowed to do that it's pretty frustrating."
In 10 games this season, Matheson has notched one assist and 15 blocked shots.
"He adds a lot to our team," Quenneville said. "You can see his quickness in the puck areas. He plays [a lot] of minutes. I thought he was improving his game prior to getting hurt. Last night, he looked like he was almost right back to where he was before."
Colton Sceviour skated in the 400th game of his NHL career on Thursday.
"It's always kind of cool when one of those numbers come up," Sceviour said. "There's a time when you're not sure how many you're going to get or if you're going to get any at all. When those big round numbers come up, it's kind of a cool accomplishment to look back on for a split second and then move forward."
A fourth-round pick (112th overall) in the 2007 NHL Draft by the Dallas Stars, the 30-year-old winger has registered 54 goals, 75 assists, 457 hits and 311 blocked shots while averaging 13:20 of ice time per contest over parts of nine seasons split between Dallas and Florida.
Joining the Panthers as a free agent in the summer of 2016, Sceviour has played in a primarily bottom-six role over the past four seasons, while also serving as an integral part of the penalty kill. In 230 games with Florida, he's posted 67 points, including four in 15 games this season.
Since the start of the 2015-16 season, he ranks first among the team's forwards and third overall with 499:18 on the penalty kill. In that time, he's also tallied four shorthanded goals.
"It's something that happened over time," Sceviour said of his work on the penalty kill. "Once you get up here, you kind of realize how hard it is to do some of the things you did in the minor leagues or in juniors. You've got to find a way to cement yourself in the lineup and help the team win. That's how it started, but as it's moved on I found that it's something that I can do well."