As the Florida Panthers went through an exhausting training camp ahead of the season, it didn’t take long for Paul Maurice to see an element of Steven Lorentz that he knew would be a benefit to the team.
“He was chirping the entire time,” the coach said, “and we love that.”
Lorentz, acquired this offseason in the Anthony Duclair trade with the San Jose Sharks, understands his role. He’s a fourth-line forward. He isn’t going to be called upon to lead the team in goals or points.
But he is going to be a guy whose intensity will be noticed on a daily basis.
“You need depth to win championships,” Lorentz said. “There’s not always going to be guys scoring 30 goals on every single line. There are the little things that go unnoticed sometimes that don’t show up on the score sheet like blocking shots and creating momentum and stuff like that. That’s what our line trades pride in. We like taking on that role that we’re going to be hard and heavy. It’s not always going to be pretty but as long as we’re getting that energy and we’re on pucks, we’re doing our job.”
That hard work, though, occasionally does pay off on the score sheet. Take Florida’s 2-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday. Lorentz opened scoring in the final minute of the second period when his shot from the left circle bounced off Red Wings goaltender James Reimer’s glove, then off the crossbar and then, eventually, into the back of the net
“It felt good,” Lorentz said of the goal, his first of the season. “Any time you get a goal in the first of the last minute of a period, it’s a bit of a backbreaker for the other team. I was just trying to shoot it hard on net and was fortunate enough to get a bounce. Hopefully those bounces start coming our way a little more.”
Lorentz is ever the optimist. It’s hard to find him without a smile on his face and doing what he can to keep the mood light and upbeat.
“In general,” Maurice said, “new players are usually a little bit more quiet. It takes them a while to get comfortable, but it didn’t take Steve more than two practices and he was talking, smiling, laughing. We do value that. That’s an important part of what we do.”
Lorentz admitted ahead of the season he was surprised that San Jose traded him, especially since he was coming off his best season (80 games played, 10 goals, nine assists, 133 hits, 46 takeaways, 46 blocked shots).
But it didn’t take long for him to settle in with his new team.
“It almost seems too good to be true,” Lorentz said. “The camaraderie on and off the ice, everyone’s tugging on the same rope. I’ve said that countless times over and over so it’s just nice to come into a group in my first season, and it’s only nine games in and it’s feeling like I’ve been here for so long. Everybody treats you with respect, everybody’s positive and trying to bring the best out of you. They want you to be successful so it’s made it an easy transition from last year to this year. I’m over the moon and I hope to keep this going.”