Panthers’ Trocheck ‘questionable’ ☕


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Vincent Trocheck. -- MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Turns out the Penguins aren't the only team dealing with some high-profile injuries.

When they face the Panthers tonight at 7:08 at the BB&T Center, Florida might be missing Vincent Trocheck, the Upper St. Clair native who is one of his team's most productive players.

Trocheck apparently was injured when he blocked a shot during the Panthers' 3-2 shootout victory in Nashville last Saturday and did not participate in Florida's game-day skate this morning.

"We'll see how he is today," Florida coach Joel Quenneville said after the skate. "He's questionable for tonight."

The Panthers got more encouraging news on center Aleksander Barkov, whose status for this evening had been uncertain -- apparently because of an unspecified upper-body injury that has been nagging him since training camp -- but Quenneville said Barkov "is going to be fine."

While Trocheck has one goal and five assists in eight games, his value to the Panthers transcends his offensive stats.

"He plays in a lot of situations for us, a lot of ice time," Quenneville said. "All special teams. Faceoffs. Intensity. He brings a lot of good things to your team, and he's had a good start to the season."

That included returning to the game against the Predators and ultimately scoring the game-deciding goal in the shootout.

Having Barkov won't be the only personnel boost the Panthers get this evening because veteran center Brian Boyle, who was signed as a free agent Monday, is scheduled to make his Florida debut.

"He gives us a lot of versatility," Quenneville said. "He gives us size in the middle. He gives us a faceoff guy. He gives us a net-front presence on the power play. He can kill penalties. He has experience. He has some playoff games on his resumé, as well. He brings a lot of ingredients that he can add to our team. He can bring some leadership, as well."

Boyle hasn't played since Nashville was eliminated from the playoffs this spring, but said even though the rest of the league has a head start on him, he doesn't feel as if he has the luxury of taking a few shifts -- let alone days or weeks -- to get back into the rhythm of playing.

"Hopefully, I'm there," he said. "It doesn't really matter. Pittsburgh doesn't care and these guys, if I'm in the lineup, they're going to count on me, so I need to be ready right away."

If he's able to do that, it might be because he's able to distill his responsibilities to the basics of the game.

"Whatever the system is, I want to execute," Boyle said. "It's no different. You want to have the puck more than they do. You want to create chances and not give any up."

That doesn't mean that this game feels quite like most of the 766 that preceded it.

Boyle acknowledged that he had a little difficulty sleeping Monday night, and added that, "I'm sure I'll get here a few minutes early" for the game.

• Although Florida is well aware of the Penguins' many injuries, especially to prominent forwards like Evgeni Malkin and Alex Galchenyuk, defenseman Anton Stralman said the Panthers aren't taking the Penguins lightly. "They play good hockey," he said. "Fast, defensive-minded. ... They're playing good hockey, no matter who's in or out of the lineup. They still have some special players." Quenneville echoed that assessment. "They might look like they're banged-up, in a lot of ways," he said. "But boy, they're playing well. Their team game is as good as we've seen this year. They work and they have some speed. And they have more skill than you think."

• The Penguins did not have a game-day skate, but Matt Murray, Tristan Jarry, Nick Bjugstad, Chad Ruhwedel, Juuso Riikola and Bryan Rust went on the ice at the BB&T Center this morning.

• Florida's goals-against average is 3.63, sixth-highest in the NHL, while the Penguins are scoring 3.56 per game, seventh-most in the league. "We're not where we want to be, defensively, yet," Stralman said. "This is a good challenge. We're going to get tested."

• The Penguins are 4-1-3 in their past eight games at the BB&T Center, 11-1-3 in their past 15 games overall versus Florida.

• Keep an eye on Marcus Pettersson tonight. He has four points (one goal, three assists) in four career games against the Panthers.

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