SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Florida coach Joel Quenneville loves horse racing. As any real bettor does, he goes by all the past performances for each horse within the field earlier than making his wager.
He’s no longer an professional.
“Beneath average,” he said.
Perhaps Quenneville need to follow hockey. The wager he made on the Panthers a couple of years ago looks to be on the cusp of a substantial-time payoff.
Florida — a franchise that has made missing the playoffs an art plot, and not using a series wins since 1996 — is at the midpoint of this season, Year 2 of the Quenneville era, tied for essentially the most facets within the NHL. At 19-5-4, the Panthers are off to the handiest 28-game start in their history when it involves facets and a hit percentage.
And for the first time in a quarter-century, the Panthers may probably be a real contender for the Stanley Cup.
There are plenty of reasons why: Aleksander Barkov is playing just like the handiest within the game, goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is back in top plot after a down year, and Aaron Ekblad and MacKenzie Weegar may probably be the cease defenseman duo within the league.
The largest reason, though, may probably be Quenneville, the mustachioed guy at the back of the bench. He preaches easy hockey, tricky hockey, team-first hockey. The Panthers are soaking up each be aware.
“Despite the fact that it’s essentially the most complicated play on the ice, he’s OK with it see you later as it works,” Ekblad said. “So that’s one of the vital issues I’ve learned. Clearly, there’s a time and place to make a easy play. And there’s a time and place to make the play that’s going to assist us capture the game.”
The Panthers have trailed at some level in 14 of their 19 victories; they were down 3-1 to Chicago on Monday night earlier than ripping off the game’s final five goals for yet another comeback capture. They’re 4-0-0 this season against the Blackhawks, who fired Quenneville — a three-time champion coach there — solely 15 games into the 2018-19 season.
Quenneville took some time determining what to achieve subsequent. He saw the younger core in Florida, the team that was being dash then by his longtime pal Dale Tallon, and determined that may probably be his subsequent cease. The Panthers have reaped the benefits ever since.
“In Chicago, I was lucky at that time to grab a team that was as talented and deep as they were,” Quenneville said. “This team’s a diminutive diversified in some ways, but at the same time, the trend, where we’re at, it extra or much less rings a bell in my memory of those days. And I came right here with the thinking that it’d be a fun place to capture.”
He obtained a title in his second year in Chicago. He may probably have a team real sufficient to capture another title in his second year in Florida.
The Panthers haven’t had anything shut to a rough patch yet. They’re 8-0-1 after a loss this season, have scored five or extra goals 10 times and given up five or extra solely twice. And they’re the solely team so far with a a hit file this season against reigning Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay.
“All americans looks to be having fun on the ice,” Barkov said. “And that’s when everybody starts to witness you. Half of the season completed, we’re in a real quandary.”
Florida has stars on the ice, without interrogate. On the opposite hand it’s Quenneville who’s pushing all the correct buttons. He’s cut down on practice time this season because of the compressed time table and the demands on players’ our bodies, picking to achieve extra work within the video room instead. The cease result has been extra energizing legs, and Florida’s 36 third-length goals entering Tuesday was tops within the NHL — a substantial part of all those comeback wins.
“It’s no longer misplaced on me at all,” Panthers general manager and aged hockey agent Invoice Zito told The Associated Press in an interview last month, when asked about the advantage that comes with having Quenneville as coach. “I lived in Chicago when he came in and made the dash and had a series of players play for him. So, that is a luxurious for me that would no longer mosey unappreciated.”
Quenneville has nothing left to display. Handiest one coach in NHL history has obtained extra games, solely seven have obtained extra Stanley Cups and most of those were claimed a lifetime ago. He can be spending extra time watching horses, playing golf and tennis, skiing, having fun with existence with his family.
Instead, the 62-year-faded remains to be working, and not using a plans to cease quickly. That silver chalice, the one Florida has always chased and the one Quenneville has already hoisted three times, remains to be very mighty on his mind.
“Whenever you capture a Cup, you can’t wait to achieve it again. And that’s the factor,” Quenneville said. “It’s everything. That’s why we achieve it. The strategy of making an attempt to capture the Cup is the handiest part of a hit a Cup. And that’s what you stare forward to.”
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