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Watch — The FHN Morning Skate: Panthers welcome Stars

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SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers will be gunning for their eighth consecutive game with a point Friday night as the Dallas Stars come to town.

Dallas, if you may recall, is the lone (star) team to beat the Panthers since their return from the Covid-Christmas break last month.

Florida has won six of seven, with the only loss coming in a 6-5 shootout in Texas.

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The Panthers will have Patric Hornqvist back in the lineup after his Covid test but Mason Marchment was being skated with the scratches on Friday morning so it is likely he sits tonight and plays tomorrow against Columbus.

Here is today’s edition of the FHN Morning Skate. Enjoy it. And we’ll see you later for the Panthers Postgame.

FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK

DALLAS STARS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS 

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GameDay 40: Lineups, Betting Odds for Panthers at Oilers

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The Florida Panthers ran into a desperate Calgary team on Tuesday night, one that had lost four consecutive games. The Edmonton Oilers may come into Thursday’s game downright feisty.

The Oilers, despite having two of the best players in the NHL, have lost six straight games and 12 of their past 14.

The team’s fanbase and local media have been calling for wholesale changes and the Panthers know they need to bring a different level of intensity on Thursday night than they did in Calgary.

“They are kind of like Calgary. We’re going in, playing a team that has been off a little bit and really want to get their game set straight,” Andrew Brunette said. “It’s obviously a big challenge.

“They have two of the best players in the world and a really good supporting cast. We have to bring our A-Game, and that’s something we did not do on (Tuesday) night.”

No one covers the Florida Panthers like Florida Hockey Now. No One.

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Florida comes into the game with Jonathan Huberdeau tied for third in the NHL in scoring with 53 points. One of the players he is tied with is Edmonton top center Connor McDavid.

Leon Draisaitl, who centers Edmonton’s second line, has 54 points.

The Panthers are going to be paying attention when either of those two scoring machines are on the ice, you best be sure.

“I think it’s going to be a good challenge for (Aaron Ekblad) and I and we look forward to the challenge,” MacKenzie Weegar said of defending those two.

“These are two of the best players in the world and we’re going to see a lot of them. We’ll embrace it and as competitors, we look forward to it. Hopefully we shut them down and get the two points.”

Florida comes into the night an oh-so-average 5-5-5 on the road this season, a stark contrast to the team’s success on home ice.

The Panthers, despite their pedestrian record, have kept road games close this season with a few outliers. Tuesday’s 5-1 drubbing at the Saddledome was one of them.

“A lot of those games were one-goal games where, maybe we just didn’t have enough,” Brunette said. “We’re not going to blow people out every night. I thought we played some good road games even if our record does not indicate that as much.

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“At the end of the day, it’s a .500 record. If we want to be an elite team — which we do and we believe we are — we have to get our road game straight.”

— Brunette said that he expected Owen Tippett to get back into the lineup Tuesday after being recalled from AHL Charlotte on Monday.

Tippett scored a goal against Minnesota on Nov. 20, but has just one assist in the next 15 games.

In two games with Charlotte, Tippett registered four points.

“He obviously played well, produced in his weekend stint,” Brunette said. “I think he’ll be in, kind of a morning decision. … I was excited that he was able to go down there, play well and produce. I think it was good to get some touches, get some points. I think that will definitely help his game up here.”

— Brunette said he did not have an update on Patric Hornqvist who left Tuesday’s game in the second period and did not return with an upper-body injury. Brunette said Hornqvist was day-to-day.

— This will be the first game in which Colton Sceviour faces his former Florida teammates after being part of the trade that sent Mike Matheson to the Penguins for Hornqvist in 2020.

Sceviour signed with the Panthers as a free agent in 2016 and spent four seasons with the club.

With Gus Forsling on the Covid list and out Thursday, Lucas Carlsson gets back in.

FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK

FLORIDA PANTHERS AT EDMONTON OILERS

PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINEUP

23 Carter Verhaeghe // 16 Sasha Barkov // 13 Sam Reinhart

11 Jonathan Huberdeau // 8 Sam Bennett // 10 Anthony Duclair

17 Mason Marchment // 15 Anton Lundell // 74 Owen Tippett

94 Ryan Lomberg // 19 Joe Thornton // 27 Eetu Luostarinen

52 MacKenzie Weegar // 5 Aaron Ekblad

4 Olli Juolevi // 62 Brandon Montour

32 Lucas Carlsson // 7 Radko Gudas

72 Sergei Bobrovsky

30 Spencer Knight

Scratched: Frank Vatrano

Taxi squad: Evan Fitzpatrick, Maxim Mamin, Aleksi Heponiemi

Injured: Noel Acciari (LTIR), Markus Nutivaara (LTIR), Patric Hornqvist

Covid Protocol: Jonas Johansson, Gus Forsling

PROJECTED EDMONTON OILERS LINEUP

42 Brendan Perlini // 97 Connor McDavid // 56 Kailer Yamamoto

18 Zach Hyman // 29 Leon Draisaitl // 13 Jesse Puljujarvi

37 Warren Foegele // 71 Ryan McLeod // 44 Zach Kassian

14 Devin Shore // 10 Derek Ryan // 70 Colton Sceviour

25 Darnell Nurse // 5 Cody Ceci

2 Duncan Keith // 22 Tyson Barrie

6 Kris Russell // 75 Evan Bouchard

19 Mikko Koskinen

41 Mike Smith

Edmonton Oilers lines courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com

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Offishial news, 1/20/22: Prospect coverage ramps up; player workouts

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The latest Miami Marlins coverage to get you through the lockout blues.

Marlins catching prospect Joe Mack smiling for the camera

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New Fish Stripes Podcast


  • In a follow-up to Wednesday’s Baseball America Top 100 prospects list release, BA’s Ben Balder highlights José Salas as a breakout prospect with the potential to crack the Top 100 by the end of the 2022 season.
  • In an interview with the Marlins’ Kyle Sielaff, Joe Mack says that he’s most focused on improving his footwork and receiving behind the plate and his timing in the batter’s box. Mack put up zany statistics in the Florida Complex League in 2021, somehow pairing a .132 batting average with a .373 on-base percentage thanks to his very selective approach. He’s likely to begin next season with Low-A Jupiter.
  • Stoffer Cochran and Andrew Montenegro of Prospects 1500 ranked their Top 50 Marlins prospects, putting Max Meyer at No. 1.
  • For the fifth and final time, Daniel Álvarez of El Extrabase won Marlins Jeopardy. He abdicates the throne coming off his largest margin of victory—21,000 points ahead of second-place finisher Alex Carver—and with a cumulative point total of 78,400. Here is the full offseason leaderboard. Join us next Wednesday as I make the switch from quizmaster to contestant.

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Kendal Briles is still in running for Miami OC opening

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The Kendal Briles rumor mill has had more on-again / off-again moments than Zach Morris and Kelly Kapowski. After Brett McMurphy reported that the younger Briles was in line to be Miami’s offensive coordinator, rumors circled (below) that KB was staying at Arkansas.

Now, with Jason Candle turning down the offer (the morning after I write my piece on him, of course), the focus returns on Mr. Briles. Briles is a Texas native who played for the Texas Longhorns (2001-2002) and Houston Cougars (2003-2005).

In 2008, Briles joined his father’s coaching staff at Baylor as the inside wide receivers coach and offensive recruiting coordinator. Briles was a fast riser on his father’s staff, moving to Passing Game Coordinator by 2011, and offensive coordinator by 2015.

After Art Briles was fired at Baylor due to controversy, Kendal resurfaced as Florida Atlantic University. Briles was only at FAU for the 2017 season, where he served as the OC of the Owls. In 2018, Briles was the OC at Houston, before moving on to serve as OC at Florida State for the 2019 season, and then to the Razorbacks as OC from 2020-present.


The Doppler

Kendal Briles has been the offense-saver at every stop throughout his career. Even at Baylor, where Briles was already on staff, he pulled Baylor from 11th in SP+ up to 3rd in 2015. In 2016, with Jim Grobe as head coach, the Bears dipped to 40th in SP+ offense.

Upon arriving in Boca Raton, FL to be the OC of the FAU Owls, Briles took the nation’s 69th offense in SP+ up to 30th. At Houston, Briles moved the 43rd ranked offense to 20th. At FSU with no offensive line to speak of, Briles improved the ‘Noles offense from 97th to 49th which is no small feat.

Since arriving at Arkansas under Sam Pittman, Briles moved the 105th ranked offense per SP+ up to 54th, and then 32nd. The Razorbacks scored just under 10 points per game more in ‘21 than in ‘19 under Chad Morris.

Unlike most of his stops, Briles would be walking into an offensive structure in Coral Gables he typically hasn’t had the pleasure of finding. He replaces a similar style’d OC in Rhett Lashlee. While Miami’s offense isn’t quite as efficient as Baylor in ‘15, it has a stud QB in Tyler Van Dyke behind center.


Personnel

Unlike Jason Candle, Briles isn’t known for having a feature back that carries the load in his 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end) offense. Briles works faster than Candle, preferring a hurry up no huddle more often than Candle or Lashlee.

But you can’t argue with Briles efficiency. The Hogs spread the ball to three backs plus the QB and 23 rushing TD’s from that foursome.

Missouri v Arkansas

Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The Briles offense has been adaptable. Remember when Baylor beat UNC in a bowl game without an actual QB? Has Briles taken advantage of mobile QB’s? Sure. KJ Jefferson could tote the rock, but Briles has adapted to a lack of OL, a lack of a feature back, and the lack of a mobile QB in the past.

Explosive plays is the name of the game. The backs averaged over 5-yards per carry, and WR Treylon Burks averaged 16.7 yards per catch with 11 TD’s. In ‘20, WR Mike Woods averaged over 19 yards per catch.


The Briles Offense

Kendal Briles hasn’t just been effective under his father’s tutelage, or in a particular conference, he’s been effective in the Big 12, AAC, and SEC… and while his work at FSU wasn’t fantastic, it was much better than prior to his arrival.

Above– Mental Toughness isn’t 300’s or puking from burpees. It’s how you respond under duress in real game situations. So the goal of practice is to make the situation and stress as close to a game-like situation as possible. This is an example of a lack of MT on this play. MT is specific, not general. Now the next question is to watch how Jefferson and the offense respond. Are they going to react, or respond? How resilient are they after failure?

Above– Be still my heart. 4th and 1 and Briles lines up under center but in an empty set. MAKE YOUR OPPONENT COVER THE ENTIRE FIELD. Lighten the box but also make them cover your receivers. And BTW, they picked up the 1st down.

Above– RPO with the bubble tagged on. Nice, easy, fluid pick up on 3rd down. Nothing too complex. Just a pitch and catch.

Above– Two whip routes (slant in and zig out) and an arrow (or slide) from the inside guy. Coverage here is TOUGH to keep with. A lot of talking, a lot of switching. Briles like Candle is forcing the DB’s to trade off which they really hate doing.

Above– Again, like Candle, post-wheel making DB’s switch and this WR knew he had it before it even looks like it came open.

Above– Flirting with the Wake Forest walk up mesh on inside zone.

Above– back in the empty, quads, bunchy sideline formation. This time Jefferson likes the solo WR. He cuts off his route and with a little push off grabs the throw for a TD. 3rd and 1 and not a predictable thing in sight.

Above– Briles dialing up ways to get Burks 1-on-1 at least in a short window. He’s successful on 3rd and 6 with a simple fade.

Above– Mesh with #1 running a fade. All of the action in the middle frees up the outside WR into a 1-on-1.


The wrap

Could I have chosen the games against UGA or LSU where the Hogs struggled on offense? Sure. I chose this Bama game to show how the game plan really worked and how Briles’ offense scored against one of the best defenses in the country.

With Briles’ baggage, Miami fans have to have faith that Mario Cristobal and Dan Radakovich are doing their due diligence in the vetting process. Briles has been hired at other stops, but those stops were FAU, Houston, FSU and Arkansas. Those schools have hired some questionable names, such as: Lane Kiffin, Art Briles, Jeremy Pruitt (as DC), Rick Trickett (OL) Tom Herman, and Bobby Petrino.

I might not trust the vetting of those programs, but I do trust the vetting at the University of Miami. Mario Cristobal especially has seen some of the best and worst, and really seems to hire guys that he can trust, that keep their nose clean, and that are family men (Alex Mirabal, Aaron Feld).

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