SUNRISE, Fla. - Speed bumps in the road are going to happen.
The key is to avoid making a mountain out of a molehill.
Panthers center Vincent Trocheck's NHL career had been on a constant ascension since he broke into the league with Florida as a fresh-faced 20-year-old in 2014.
Trocheck, now 26, has carved out a place for himself among the league's best second-line centers.
He entered last season poised to build off a career high 75 points in 2017-18 and was coming off back-to-back years where he didn't miss a single game.
But life comes at you fast.
Trocheck suffered a broken ankle during a mid-November game in Ottawa, throwing a monkey wrench into what was supposed to be his biggest year yet.
Somewhat remarkably, Trocheck only missed 27 games with the injury and was back on the ice less than two months later.
Unfortunately, the goal of picking up where he left off would prove to be unattainable.
Trocheck admitted that it messed with his confidence and went into the summer determined to get his body ready and resume his career's upward trajectory.
So far, he's looked like good 'ol Vinny.
"I feel great, I feel back to myself," Trocheck said Tuesday. "I feel no pain on the ice. I don't feel like I'm lacking any confidence. I feel like I can go out there and be myself and play with speed and play with aggression. I feel really good."
And it's showing.
Trocheck has two points in Florida's first two games, including a shorthanded breakaway goal against Tampa Bay All-Star goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Considering the level he was playing at before the injury, if Trocheck is truly back to feeling like he did prior to being hurt, a point-per-game pace is not a far-fetched concept.
It certainly can't hurt that Trocheck and his wingers, Mike Hoffman and Brett Connolly, have been working in harmony since being grouped together early in training camp.
When asked about his linemates following Tuesday's morning skate, Trocheck's eyebrows suddenly perked up.
"I feel like myself, Hoff and Conns have a lot of chemistry right now," Trocheck said energetically. "We know where we're going to be in the offensive zone. We're making some plays down low. In the defensive zone, I think we're figuring out the system a little bit more now."
There is a quiet confidence brewing among the trio, with each bringing something different and equally productive to the lineup.
Instead of feeling pressure to produce, there is a sense of comfort knowing that the guys to either side of you can put the puck in the net on any given night.
"Last game, Hoff had a great game and tonight, it's going to have to be one of us three that steps up," Trocheck said. "If its Hoff again, or me, or Conns, it's just going to be someone different every night."
Copyright 2019 by WPLG Local10.com - All rights reserved.