CORAL SPRINGS — After two days of training camp, the Florida Panthers are still very much getting adjusted to the Paul Maurice era.
Friday’s practice was a wide mix of breakout drills that tested the speed of the team and a continuation of Thursday’s puck battle drills that built on the strengths of the team.
”All we are trying to do with our guys is give them a broad view of major systems, with one idea from each system we would like to see in an actual game,” Maurice said.
”We are not expecting systematic perfection by any means. The first four days are kind of an introduction to the three defensive zones on the ice and how to play them and what our mindset is in the three offensive zones and how we transition into the offensive zone.”
From the moment Maurice was hired, it was expected that he would make the Panthers a stronger team in the defensive zone and it seems to be taking shape so far.
A large portion of Friday’s camp was 1-on-1 battles throughout different parts of the offensive zone.
As the defense became more tenacious on the puck, they started winning more of those battles.
”I think that is what he is preaching right now,” Brandon Montour said.
”It’s good to get a couple of hard skates in there. The pace of guys seem to be in shape, they’re coming off with beat-red faces, but that’s what it’s all about.”
Justin Sourdif was sidelined from Friday’s practice with an injury. He was limited during development camp with an injury sustained during his WHL playoff run and later missed World Juniors with the same injury.
That injury has apparently yet to completely heal. The 2020 third-round pick is listed as day-to-day.
Charlotte Checkers captain Zac Dalpe was back on the ice and participating in drills after skating on his own on Thursday.
Maurice says that he is still injured and is day-to-day.
The Panthers kept line rushes the same as they were on Thursday, mainly looking like this:
Carter Verhaeghe-Sasha Barkov-Rudolfs Balcers
Matthew Tkachuk-Sam Bennett-Colin White
Nick Cousins-Anton Lundell-Sam Reinhart
Ryan Lomberg-Eric Staal-Patric Hornqvist
Lundell was also given many reps on Barkov’s wing — as he was on Wednesday — alongside Verhaeghe to make for a stacked top line.
Rookie camp standout Patrick Giles joined the group of NHL-regular forwards in Group 2 on Friday and was given reps alongside Tkachuk and Bennett.
These lines are not set in stone, as Maurice still plans to tinker with them once his system is set in place.
”Where they are playing right now has nothing to do with the lines that I’ve put together,” Maurice said.
”I wanted to play them with people that give me a chance to understand their game. I’ve got a pretty good idea of what [Barkov] and Verhaeghe are like and what happens when you play with those players. It allows me to see them.
”I will reserve any judgement of them just from two practices, but I’ll start to watch them [individuallly] closer to the exhibition.”