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Quenneville's Panthers progressing nicely, looking to end road trip on high note

Florida playing like a playoff team, still has plenty to improve on

Florida Panthers coach Joel Quenneville handles bench duties during the first period against the New York Islanders on October 12, 2019. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

DENVER – The finish line of a long and daunting road trip is in sight. 

Joel Quenneville and his Florida Panthers are almost done with an October schedule to forget. 
They last played on home ice more than a week ago.

After Wednesday's contest in snow-covered Denver, the Panthers will have played more than twice the amount of road games than home games. 

There is no arguing that Quenneville's bunch was thrown into the fire, but it looks like they could come out the other side mostly unscathed. 

"We've got a chance to make this a real productive and positive trip and that's what we're looking for," Quenneville said Wednesday morning. 

Through 12 games, nine of which were against playoff teams from last season, Florida has a respectable 5-3-4 record that included an eight-game point streak (4-0-4). 

More importantly, it's a pace that would likely put them in a coveted playoff spot when stretched out over a full 82-game schedule. 

As the weeks have passed, players are finding that the recipe for success in Quenneville's system is something they can cook up on a regular basis. 

"When we win, I think every line is going and we get contributions from every guy here," Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau said. "When we get going, it's not only one line or two lines. When we play with four lines, and all the defensemen and the goalie is good, that's what we have to bring every night."

It's also notable that while Florida's schedule will become less intimidating, the team itself is only going to get better as they continue progressing and leaning a new system. 

But first things first, and that's ending an extremely tough road trip on a positive note. 

"We've just got to worry about our game and our system and do it correctly," Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle said. "Knowing that we have a chance to have a good road trip, especially on a tough road trip with tough travel, I think for us to come out and start early and start fast is big for us."

BOYLE FITTING IN NICELY 

New Panthers center Brian Boyle is adjusting nicely to his new surroundings. After signing a one-year deal with Florida last week, Boyle has picked up goals in back-to-back games. 

The 13-year NHL veteran has 3 points (2-1-3) in four games with Florida, while averaging 14:03 of ice time. 

"He's fit in with the guys immediately," Quenneville said of Boyle. "He's got positional awareness in both ends of the rink; he seems to do the right things when he does have the puck and obviously he's scored some timely goals."

Boyle has been a major boost in the faceoff circle as well, winning 13 of the 21 draws he's taken for an impressive success rate of 61.8 percent. 

Adding to the equation the playoff experience and off-ice leadership that the 34-year-old brings to the table, Florida looks like they got a steal signing Boyle for just $940,000. 

"I think he's added something to our team, especially in the middle," Quenneville said. "Certainly, he brings a lot of different intangibles that we appreciate, as well."


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