The Florida Panthers are in a deep hole. Down 3 games to 0, can they still win?
The Battle of Florida is, well, anything but that. The 2x reigning Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning look to sweep their in-state rivals from Sunrise tonight on home ice. The President’s Trophy winning Florida Panthers were the NHL’s best regular season team, finishing with a franchise record 122 points this year. Led by superstar forwards Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov alongside goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, the Cats looked to be potential cup favorites.
Let’s discuss what happened in the previous three games to the Panthers to put them in this position, and potential fixes to win Game 4.
After finishing the regular season with a 24.43% Powerplay, the Florida Panthers have gone silent. They’ve scored just 1 out of their last 28 attempts on the man advantage, according to covers.com. This comes absolutely shocking to NHL fans after their amazing scoring success in the regular season. Yes, they are going up against the best goalie in the world, Andrei Vasilevskiy. However, it’s embarrassing to have this good of a regular season and be this unproductive in the playoffs.
Entering this series, I knew it was going to be chippy, and that remains true 3 games in. Overall, I feel as though the refs have been good on penalty calls. That being said, Florida is taking too many penalties by being lazy and not being aware of the situation. Hooking, tripping and cross checking make up the majority of their infractions, and it’s giving Tampa opportunities. If they want to win the series, they have to stop giving opportunities to the lethal Tampa PP.
The Panthers are undoubtedly being outcoached by Jon Cooper. I’ve seen it in the past (2019 Columbus series) and it’s not fun. When you’re down 3-0 like Andrew Brunette is right now, he has to make some changes. Whether it be mixing up the lines, change the strategy, or maybe a substitution (a lot of Panther fans have been calling for Joe Thornton) take a risk. With their back against the wall, Florida has to play almost flawless to come back. However, I think the Bolts are too strong for the inexperienced Panthers and will close this series out tonight. If Brunette doesn’t think of a solution fast, it’s going to be a long offseason for the Cats – and a lot of what-if’s.