Vincent Trocheck wasn’t even supposed to be playing for the Florida Panthers this soon, let alone seemingly jumping right back to full-strength, as if his ankle was never fractured.
Heading into Friday, the Panthers were on a seven-game losing streak, facing a weekend that sure looked like it would set the stage for one or two additional losses.
Instead, the Panthers now have back-to-back wins, and they’ve done so against two legitimate NHL contenders.
On Friday, the Panthers beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1. Trocheck assisted on Mike Matheson‘s game-winning goal, posted highly impressive possession stats, three shots on goal, and seven (!) hits.
That would have already been a highly impressive effort for a player coming off a pretty traumatic injury, but Trocheck was arguably even better during Saturday’s 4-2 win against the Nashville Predators.
While his fancy stats were a little choppier, Trocheck showed up on the scoreboard even more, generating a goal and an assist. He looked awfully spry on that goal, by the way:
That breakaway score ended up being the game-winner, actually.
After generating three points in his two games back, Trocheck now has 17 points in 20 games this season.
Now, the Panthers points as a team? They’re now at 46 points in 47 games played, leaving them at least 12 points behind the Penguins (who have 58 points, and could add more against the Golden Knights during a Saturday game that’s in progress). To put things mildly, the odds are stacked high against the Panthers for a credible push toward a berth in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Then again, the odds were also against Trocheck returning as soon as mid-January, and he’s instead making a big impact for Florida.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.