Skip to main content
The Official Site of the Florida Panthers

Panthers News

Trocheck Could Return as Panthers Kick Off Trip Against Islanders

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

Vincent Trocheck could make his long-awaited return to the lineup when the Florida Panthers open up a three-game road trip against the New York Islanders at Barclays Center on Saturday.

After missing the previous seven games with a lower-body injury, Trocheck was a full participant in Thursday's practice and was back in his old spot centering the second line. Afterwards, head coach Joel Quenneville said that the fiery 26-year-old pivot was on track to play on Long Island.

"He looked good," Quenneville said. "We're going to look to get him in tomorrow."

Out of action since scoring the game-winning shootout goal in a 3-2 win at Nashville on Oct. 19, Trocheck's presence should provide a major boost for the Panthers. In eight games this season, he's registered one goal, six assists and 27 shots while averaging 19:28 of ice time per contest.

"It's huge. Troch is such a big part of our team," said Panthers defenseman Mike Matheson, who recently returned after missing five games of his own. "I like to think that I'm able to help the team win as well. When you're able to get players back in the lineup, it always helps."

In Trocheck's absence, the Panthers posted a 4-1-2 record, including a 5-4 overtime loss to the Metropolitan Division-leading Washington Capitals on Thursday. Holding onto the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, Florida has earned at least one point in 11 of its last 12 games.

Sitting at 7-3-5, the Panthers are tied for the third-fewest regulation losses in the NHL.

"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."

Despite leaving a point on the table against the Capitals, both Florida and several of its stars are starting to settle into a groove. Captain Aleksander Barkov has found the back of the net in each of the last three games, while Jonathan Huberdeau has racked up four goals over his last three.

Overall, Barkov and Huberdeau are tied for the team-scoring lead with 19 points apiece, which has helped the team's offense climb to fifth in the NHL with an average of 3.60 goals per game.

All of that firepower, however, will be put the to the test against New York.

Entering this afternoon's matchup on an 11-game point streak, the Islanders (11-3-1) saw their 10-game winning streak end with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday.

In the loss, the Penguins erased a three-goal deficit in the third period to force overtime, where Bryan Rust netted his second goal of the game to hand New York its first defeat since Oct. 11.

"We just have to be better. That's not the way we have been playing," Islanders captain Anders Lee told reporters after the game. "We all know that -- that's what is frustrating… Bad period, bad lapse. It cost us a point in the end against a really good team."

Led by the goaltending tandem of Thomas Greiss and Semyon Varlamov, the Islanders boast the top-ranked defense in the league, surrendering an average of 2.27 goals allowed per game. Greiss is tied for second in the league in save percentage (.937), while Varlamov rests at .924.

During its 10-game winning streak, New York surrendered more than two goals just once.

"They play a structured team game," Quenneville said of the Islanders. "They have some balance to their team. They've got some workers, too. They've got a little bit of everything on every line. You've got to play the right way. I thought last night [against Washington] was a good learning experience, knowing that as the game progressed it's got to be a 60-minute purpose."

At the other end of the ice, Josh Bailey and Mathew Barzal are tied for the team-scoring lead with 12 points each, and are also tied with Brock Nelson for the most goals with six. Additionally, Lee has chipped in 10 points, while Devon Toews leads the team's defenseman in points (9).

In the first meeting between the two teams this season, Nelson scored the game-winning goal for the Islanders in a 3-2 shootout win on Oct. 12 at the team's other rink, the Nassau Coliseum.

"Going into a game like the Islanders, the last time we played them we were a little more stingy defensively," Matheson said. "I think that's what it's going to take against every team. We're proving that we can put the puck in the net, so it's just a matter of being more stingy defensively and being more consistent."

While a goaltender has yet to be confirmed for either team, New York has gone back and forth between its two netminders all season long, which would mean that it would be Greiss' turn in net as Varlamov got the nod last game. Over his last five starts, Greiss owns a 5-0-0 record.

For the Panthers, Sergei Bobrovsky has started the first half of every back-to-back so far this season, which would mean he could be between the pipes in this one. The 31-year-old has backstopped Florida to at least one point in each of his last 10 starts, going 5-0-4 in that span.

Following this afternoon's contest, the Panthers will visit the New York Rangers on Sunday.

NOTES

-- Denis Malgin has notched seven points (two goals, five assists) over his last nine games.

-- MacKenzie Weegar leads Florida's defensemen in goals (3) and points (tied-9).

-- Evgenii Dadonov is ranks second in goals (7) and third in points (13) on the Panthers.

-- Brett Connolly ranks fourth on Florida in points (11) and tied for third in goals (6).

-- Anton Stralman and Noel Acciari are tied for the most blocks on the Panthers with 23.

-- Aaron Ekblad has posted seven points (one goal, six assists) over his last nine games. The 23-year-old also leads Florida's skaters in average ice time per game (24:28).

-- Dryden Hunt leads the Panthers with 28 hits.

-- Joel Quenneville is three wins ways from 900 as an NHL head coach.

-- The Panthers have just one regulation loss in their last 12 games, going 6-1-5 in that span.

PROJECTED LINEUP (NO MORNING SKATE)

Forwards

Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Evgenii Dadonov

Mike Hoffman - Vincent Trocheck - Brett Connolly

Frank Vatrano - Denis Malgin - Mark Pysyk

Dryden Hunt - Brian Boyle - Colton Sceviour

Defensemen

MacKenzie Weegar - Aaron Ekblad

Mike Matheson - Anton Stralman

Keith Yandle - Josh Brown

Goalies

Sergei Bobrovsky

Sam Montembeault

Scratches: Dominic Toninato, Noel Acciari (lower-body), Jayce Hawryluk (upper-body)

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

- Nov. 6: F Dominic Toninato was recalled from AHL Springfield.

- Nov. 6: D Riley Stillman was loaned to AHL Springfield.

- Oct. 26: The Panthers acquired F Jack Rodewald from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for the rights to F Chris Wilkie.

HOW TO WATCH / LISTEN

When: Saturday, Nov. 9, 1:00 p.m. ET

Where: Barclays Center - Brooklyn, NY

TV: FSF

Stream: FOX Sports GO

Panthers Radio Network: 790 WAXY (Dade/Broward); 640 WMEN (Palm Beach); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys)

Territory on Tap Locations: HERE

View More