Injuries to LW Jonathan Huberdeau and C Nick Bjugstad have forced Panthers head coach Gerard Gallant to shuffle his forward lines at the start of the season. However, as George Richards of the Miami Herald writes, the one constant Gallant can rely on is the Vincent Trocheck line with Reilly Smith and Jussi Jokinen on the wings. The trio has combined for two goals – both from Trocheck – and five points through three games.
Gallant initially put the line together last December and the trio “clicked from the start,” notes Richards. Trocheck believes the familiarity from last season is a big reason why the line is off to a good start in 2016-17.
“Last year we got used to each other. We got on a roll. Once you have chemistry with linemates, it’s hard to play with anyone else. You know their tendencies. Jokinen is such a smart player, Smith is so skilled; those two guys make it easy.”
Jokinen shares that belief:
“I bounced around on every line and it was nice to find a home. You feel comfortable when you get to play with guys you have chemistry with. I feel like I can now really use my strengths to help this team because we’re all making each other better. I make them better; they make me better.”
With Huberdeau expected to miss 3 – 4 months, the success of the Trocheck line becomes even more important to the Panthers. The three players combined for 68 goals and 163 points last season and will be counted on to provide consistent offense until Huberdeau and Bjugstad return to the lineup.
Elsewhere in the NHL:
- The Boston Bruins demoted third-line pivot Austin Czarnik to Providence of the AHL so that he may rediscover his game, writes Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com. The 5-foot-9, 160-pound forward made the club out of training camp but as Haggerty notes, since suffering a concussion late in the preseason Czarnik has not played with the energy the team expected. Czarnik was pointless in two games with Boston and posted a -3 plus-minus rating. Last season with Providence, the diminutive center netted 61 points in 68 AHL games and it was hoped he would add some scoring punch to Boston’s bottom-six.
- Glen Metropolit, a veteran of more than 400 NHL games, has agreed to a contract with BC Bolzano of the Austrian Hockey League (EBEL), according to Elite Pro Prospects. Metropolit, 42, has not appeared in the NHL since suiting up for 69 games with Montreal back in 2009-10. He scored 16 goals and 29 points for the Habs. Since departing the NHL, Metropolit has spent four seasons in Switzerland and another two in Germany.