Florida Panthers

Florida Panthers reaping benefits of lines’ stability

 

Coach Peter Horachek has stayed away from shuffling lines, and the Panthers’ Brad Boyes said it has resulted in better, more consistent performances.

 
 <span class="cutline_leadin">Comfort zone</span>: Panthers forward Brad Boyes (24) said the team is responding to the ‘familiarity of playing with the same guys every night.’
Comfort zone: Panthers forward Brad Boyes (24) said the team is responding to the ‘familiarity of playing with the same guys every night.’
Doug Pensinger / Getty Images

Friday: Panthers at Flames

When/where: 9 p.m.; Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary.

TV/radio: FSNF; WQAM 560.

The series: Calgary leads 11-9-3.

Scouting report: Florida has won its past two in Calagry, although that has been spread out over the past six seasons. The Flames have lost eight of 10 this month.


grichards@MiamiHerald.com

One of the beneficiaries of the Panthers’ new coaching philosophy has been winger Brad Boyes.

Once bounced around from line to line, from teammate to teammate, Boyes has thrived under coach Peter Horachek's decision to keep players together.

In the four games before Florida's late game in Edmonton on Thursday, Boyes has three goals — including the game-winner against Anaheim to snap a nine-game losing streak — playing alongside Aleksander Barkov and Scottie Upshall.

“Things have been good, there’s been consistency and a familiarity of playing with the same guys every night,’’ Boyes said. “We’re starting to see some success and that’s obviously big. I think our line complements each other.’’

Under Kevin Dineen, line changes were frequent as Dineen tried desperately to find something — anything — that would click.

Horachek has shown a little more patience and has kept the lineups more consistent. Boyes and Upshall are definitely appreciative as they are making things work.

“We kind of joke around by saying ‘chemistry’ every time we see each other,’’ said Upshall, who played with Boyes on Canada’s world junior team back in 2002. “We’re going to get to the point where we know where we all are on the ice at all times like second nature.

“We’ve known each other forever. I know [Boyes’] game, and I like having a sniper on my line. If you put the puck in the right place with him, it’s going in. And if it doesn’t go in, the rebound will be there to clean up.’’

Boyes started the season among Florida’s top six forwards but fell out of favor with Dineen and was on his way to being benched on Oct. 27 against the Lightning. Tomas Fleischmann fell ill before that game, and Boyes got a reprieve. Boyes responded by getting the game-tying goal to force overtime.

“That’s a coach’s dream,’’ Dineen said that night. “Someone is going to get [benched] and instead gets a little life, gets back in there. ... He’s made for those kind of moments. It was a professional response by him.’’

Boyes eventually found a seat in the press box on Nov. 7 as he was a healthy scratch despite leading the Panthers in goals scored. That would turn out to be Dineen’s final game as Florida’s bench boss.

Since Horachek stepped in, Boyes has been placed with Barkov and Upshall and seems to have found his rhythm.

Not only does Boyes lead the Panthers with eight goals, but he also is tied for third on the team in points. Both he and Upshall have 10 points.

“I’ve tried to keep the consistency of the lines, and they’ve all done a pretty good job,’’ Horachek said. “You see [Aleksander] Barkov and his line, good input from [Jonathan] Huberdeau with a couple of goals, the center is creating some offense.’’

Boyes’ goal Tuesday in Vancouver was as much “puck luck’’ as it was working his way into a good spot on the ice. Boyes charged the net and was on the right side of the cage when Barkov’s shot clanged off the goal cage, the puck bouncing right onto Boyes’ stick.

He tapped it past Roberto Luongo and Florida held a 1-0 lead.

“When things are going well, the puck finds you,’’ Boyes said. “I’ve had a few of them where I was on the side, and the puck came to me. But when you’re struggling, that doesn’t happen. We’re working to get those bounces. You have to realize there are some good bounces in this game.’’

• With the Panthers having won two in a row, Horachek said he wasn’t changing the lineup for Thursday’s game against the Oilers. That means defenseman Mike Weaver, who missed Saturday’s 4-1 win at Colorado with the flu, missed his third game in a row.

Horachek said Weaver’s health is no longer an issue. Scott Gomez and Sean Bergenheim also haven’t played since last week at least.

Read more Florida Panthers stories from the Miami Herald

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