Tag Archive for: Florida Panthers

Florida Panthers win Game 2 in OT, return to Sunrise with 2-0 lead

Less than 48 hours after playing the sixth-longest game in NHL history, the Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers were back on the ice in Raleigh for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

As it did in Game 1, this contest went to overtime. Unlike Thursday’s game, tonight they only needed one over time – where the Panthers won 2-1. Once again off of the stick of Matthew Tkachuk.


For the second straight game, Carolina took the first lead of the game. 


Just 1:43 into the first, Sebastian Aho layed a shot from near the boards towards the front of the Panthers’ goal. Hurricanes defenseman Jalen Chatfield, who jumped up in the rush, redirected the Aho shot past Sergei Bobrovsky to give the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead.

After Carolina opened the scoring on their first shot of the game, the Panthers appeared to have tied it. 

Gustav Forsling walked in from the point before wiring a redirected shot past Anti Raanta to get the Panthers on the board.

However, this Panthers goal would quickly be removed after Carolina’s challenge for offsides on the zone entry proved to be correct.  


After the overturned Panthers goal, the Canes stepped on the gas. 


For nearly the entire first period, it was Carolina’s game. At the halfway mark of the period, the shots on goal were 13-1 in favor of the Hurricanes. 


If matters couldn’t get worse for the Panthers, Carolina looked like they had taken a two-goal lead in the first.


But as Rod Brind’Amour did earlier in the game, Paul Maurice challenged the play for offsides. 


Florida’s challenge was successful, wiping Jack Drury’s goal off the board. The Canesead was still one. 

Trailing by one goal heading into the second, the Panthers pulled a repeat of Game 1 —  getting on  as the board with a goal. 

The Barkov line has been outstanding this postseason at getting the Cats back into games, and oddly enough, it’s happened quite often in the second period. 


7:43 into the second, Florida’s captain put himself on the highlight reel. Coming down alone on Raanta, Barkov faked a between the legs shot before pulling the puck to his backhand, beating the Canes’ goalie to tie it at 1-1. 


Barkov’s goal would be the only one scored in the period. The teams went to the break tied. 


An early storyline in this has been the desire of these two teams to play more hockey than required… ok not really but for a second straight game, regulation would not be enough in Raleigh. 


After a 4 OT thriller on Thursday, the Canes and Panthers went to overtime again, and luckily for everyone this OT lasted only minutes. 


Matthew Tkachuk sent the Panthers to the hotel up 1-0 in the series after Game 1. Tonight he sent the Cats back to Sunrise with a 2-0 series lead. 


1:51 into OT with the Panthers on the powerplay, the Cats executed a tic-tac-toe play with Tkachuk putting away the winner. This was Florida’s first goal on the power play in the series, and it couldn’t come at a better time. 


After taking both games on the road, the Panthers head back home for Games 3 & 4. This is the first time in 27 years that Panthers’ fans can see their team play in the Conference Finals at home.

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Carter Verhaeghe sends Florida Panthers to second round

It seemed improbable, maybe impossible. Down 3-1 against the greatest regular season team in NHL history, the Florida Panthers were written off by the hockey world. 


The only group that believed in the Panthers were themselves.


The Panthers shocked the hockey world tonight, defeating the Presidents’ Trophy winning Boston Bruins in Game 7 overtime, 4-3 to advance to the second round.


After clawing back in the series to force Game 7 in Boston, the Panthers once again found themselves in a hole tonight, trailing 3-2 with exactly a minute left in regulation.


Brandon Montour kept his team’s season alive, rifling a shot past Jeremy Swayman to tie the  game at 3-3.


With the late equalizer, this series went to overtime for the second time – both being elimination scenarios for the Panthers in Boston.


Winner takes all overtime in Game 7. Next bounce wins. Losers go home, winners move on. 


The extra frame saw both teams get their fair share of chances to win the series, but the two goaltenders kept their nets shut. 


Boston had a few early chances on Sergei Bobrovsky, while Florida had two great looks in front of Swayman from Matther Tkachuk and Carter Verhaeghe. 


The final shift of the game came from Florida’s three best players in the series.


A great forecheck from Sam Bennett and Matthew Tkachuk prevented the Bruins from breaking out of their own zone. After an aggressive puck battle behind Boston’s net, Bennett fed Verhaeghe at the faceoff circle and the Panthers forward scored his second series clinching ot goal for the Panthers in consecutive years. 


The Panthers just snuck into the postseason, clinching their playoff berth before the final game of the regular season. The odds were against them as they took on a Bruins team that set the NHL record for both wins and points.


Florida will head to Toronto for the second-round to take on a Maple Leafs team that just got over a 19-year playoff series winless streak.

Five Takeaways from Panthers’ Game 1 loss to Bruins

The 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs is officially underway and the Presidents’ Trophy winning Boston Bruins played host to the Florida Panthers at TD Garden on Monday night for Game 1 of their first round series. 


The Bruins defended their home ice with a 3-1 win over the Panthers; taking a 1-0 series lead. 


Here are the takeaways. 

Battle of the stars

The two best players in this series are David Pastrnak of the Bruins and Matthew Tkachuk of the Panthers. 


Tkachuk and Pastrnak were the only players from the two teams to score 100 points this season, with Pastrnak finishing with 113 and Tkachuk with 109.

The Bruins’ star winger continued in Game 1 what he did all season, score. Following his 61 goal regular season, Pastrnak got his first goal of the playoffs just 5:58 into the first period, with an open net tap in on the power play, putting the Bruins up 1-0.


Like his fellow Atlantic Division All-Star, Tkachuk got his first goal of the playoffs tonight in Boston. Tkachuk jumped in on the forecheck, corralled a loose puck and pulled a backhand forehand move to beat Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark, getting the Panthers on the board. 


Coming into the series we highlighted these two guys as players to watch, they didn’t disappoint tonight. 


Rough bounces for Alex Lyon gave the Bruins breathing room

Florida decided to run with their hot hand in net for Game 1, giving Alex Lyon his first NHL playoff start. 


In Game 1, Lyon made more than a few highlight reel saves. Glove saves, cross crease pad robberies, he made them all.


Unfortunately for Lyon, between all the great saves, there were a few bad bounces here and there that put the Panthers in a hole.


3:41 into the second, Brad Marchand sent a fairly weak wrist shot towards the Panthers’ goal. Lyon fluffed the routine glove save and the puck trickled in, giving the Bruins a 2-0 lead. 


Later in the period with the Bruins leading by just one, it seemed like Lyon had covered a loose puck in his crease, but that wasn’t the case. 


After a few whacks in front, the puck perfectly landed on top of Lyon’s pad and sat there for a few seconds before Jake DeBrusk tapped it in to give the Bruins a 3-1 lead. 

Florida’s top line was awfully quiet

The Panthers top line of Carter Verhaeghe, Aleksander Barkov and Anthony Duclair should have had a bigger impact than they did tonight. 


Verhaeghe finished the regular season top 10 in the NHL for goals with 42 while Barkov had another PPG season. 


The Panthers captain went the entire game without a shot on goal and frankly wasn’t very noticeable tonight besides his 52% success rate in the face off circle. 


The rest of the line wasn’t much better. Anthony Duclair had the most “quality” looks out of the trio, but he still wasn’t able to threaten Ullmark. 


Florida needed offense badly in this game and they didn’t get any help from their number one line. 

Florida’s first round power play drought continues 

The Panthers did not score a single goal in last year’s first round series against Washington – yet they were still able to get out of that series in six games. The Cats only scored one goal on 31 power play chances in last season’s playoffs. 


Tonight the Panthers once again struck out on their mad-advantage, going 0/2. The Bruins were able to lock the Cats up on their second PP attempt, not giving them a moment to set up. 


It was pretty much the same story when Florida pulled the goalie for an extra attacker with about 3 minutes left in the game. 

Linus Ullmark shut the door

Boston’s starting goalie should be the favorite to win the Vezina, he was that good in the regular season. 


Tonight it was no different. 


Florida didn’t get “goalied” tonight, as the Bruins played a fairly complete team game. However, Ullmark still had to face 32 shots from a Panthers team who was firing pucks from pretty much everywhere in the o-zone. 


Ullmark made the saves he needed tonight and he got the goal support from his team, which was enough for Boston to take an early series lead 

Five Takeaways from Panthers’ dominating win over Canadiens

SUNRISE: The Florida Panthers put a close to their 2022 at home tonight with a dominant 7-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens.

The Panthers will play Friday night in Carolina before starting the new year at home against the New York Rangers.


Here’s tonight’s takeaways: 


Barkov returns with a career-night

The Panthers were without captain Aleksaner Barkov for three games after he was injured Dec. 17 in New Jersey.


In his first game back since the injury, Barkov did not wait long to put his stamp on the game. 2:37 into the first, Barkov took a point-shot from Gustav Forsling off the leg, and into the Habs net. 


Later in the period, with the Panthers on the power play, Barkov let a shot fly from the circle and buried it past Montreal goalie Sam Montembeault. 


Still in the first period, with Barkov now on hat trick watch, No. 16 put away his third goal of the period, and the hats rained from the rafters of FLA Live Arena.


Barkov finished his night back with 5 points, tying his career-high.


The boys are back in town – Gudas, Barkov, Ekblad

A few weeks ago it seemed like every night there was another player coming out of the Panthers lineup, while AHL call ups were coming in.


After a few additional days without a game following the holiday break, the Panthers got some of their big boys back; Barkov, Ekblad and Gudas.


Barkov had five points tonight, while Ekblad and Gudas shaped what has often been a depleted blue line this season. 


“The guy had no points but Radko Gudas has a huge impact on that game tonight in terms of the minutes we have to play the other defenseman,” head coach Paul Maurice said. “Having those guys come back, it felt a little bit like the first game of the season in some ways, so there’s an excitement going out.”


Let the power play bells ring

With Florida having what was as close to a full lineup as possible tonight, they had all their top guns out there on power play unit 1. 


The top unit delivered tonight, scoring on three of their attempts of the game, on goals from Barkov and Matthew Tkachuk (x2). 

With Montreal also having luck tonight on the power play, these goals were important for Florida. 


Matthew Tkachuk increases his team lead in points

It was a quiet few days for Matthew Tkachuk as the Panthers forward was going through his worst scoring drought of the season… three games. 


Tkachuk made up for lost time tonight with four points, including two goals on the power play, right in front of the net.


“I think he was raised right to be at the net,” Aleksander Barkov said. “He knows where to be and what to do there, so it’s great to have that type of guy on the team.”


The 25-year-old now has team-high 44 points in just 33 games this season.


Tonight’s game felt a lot more like last year’s Panthers team

The 2021-2022 Panthers scored more goals than any team in the 2000’s. This year’s team however hasn’t been able to run away with games like they did last year.


Florida had a jump in their step from puck-drop and it looked like they were hungrier on the puck than Montreal. 


Led by Barkov’s first period hat trick and an early second period goal by Matthew Tkachuk, Florida was in the driver’s seat.


The icing on the cake was an extremely dominating third period by the Cats, where they scored three goals while preventing Montreal from generating anything around Bobrovsky even-strength.  


The night ended with a mid third period Pepas appearance, a seven goal performance and a “we want 10” chant from the Sunrise crowd.  

Five Takeaways from Panthers’ loss to Devils

SUNRISE:  Two days after losing 7-3 in Boston, the Panthers dropped their second game in a row to the New Jersey Devils 4-2 at FLA Live Arena.


The visiting Devils were able to snap their six game losing streak, while the Panthers have dropped three of their last four games at home. 


Here’s tonight’s takeaways:


Eric Staal scores in consecutive games

This December has been a good one for Eric Staal.


The veteran forward has tallied 8 points in 11 games this month. In the 16 previous games, he failed to get a single point on the scoresheet. 


After signing with the team towards the end of October, the Panthers have had to rely on his services frequently with all the injuries they have suffered. It was a rough start to his Panthers career, however his recent production in the stat column has been fairly consistent heading into the holiday break


Florida gets Anton Lundell back  

The 21-year-old center has missed the last nine games due to a non-COVID illness. Tonight was the first game Lundell has played since Dec. 1 in Vancouver. 


The Finn didn’t seem to have any issue jumping back into the flow of things tonight. He played 14 minutes and was able to get on the scoresheet with an assist on Eetu Luostarinen’s goal.


“[It] felt great, it’s been a really long time. Tough time to be out,” Lundell said. “I’m finally happy that I’m able to join the team.”


He was also penalized with his first career NHL fight, though Lundell wasn’t sure if he’d count it as a tilt. 


“I don’t know if it counts as a fight or a wrestling match but whatever,” he added. 


Mackenzie Blackwood flipped the script of the game with key saves in the third

The Devils goaltender ended the night with 34 saves on 36 shots. 


The Panthers really peppered him around the front of goal, however he stood tall to keep it a one goal game when the Devils were trailing 2-1. 


He was able to make a flashy glove save on Ryan Lomberg in front of his goal. If that went in, the Panthers would have taken a two goal lead.


Less than a minute after that big save, the Devils went the other way and tied the game of of Jesper Bratt’s second goal of the game. 


With the Panthers down 3-2, they pulled the goalie for an extra attacker in the dying minutes of the third. The Cats had chances in high-scoring areas, but Blackwood slammed the door and the Devils put away the game with an empty netter. 


Sam Bennett’s puck control game was on full display

A big standout for me tonight was Sam Bennett’s composure on the puck. 


As the Panthers moved up the ice in transition, Bennett was really good at weaving around the Devil’s players to open up the ice. 


When Eetu Luostarinen scored to put the Panthers up 2-1 in the second, Bennett diced through the neutral zone, chipped the puck to himself on the boards, avoided a check and spun into open ice to hit a streaking Luostarinen. 


A huge part of Bennett’s game is his skating ability with the puck. That was evident tonight. 


Eetu Luostarinen gets one goal closer to surpassing his career-high 

It’s been a sort of breakout year for 24-year-old Eetu Luostarinen. 


He played the majority of last season as the fourth line center, which meant his ice time wasn’t ideal to showcase his skills. 


This season he was pushed up to the top-9 as a winger. With the increased ice time and role on the team, Luostarinen has shined. 


Last year, he finished the season with 9 goals in 78 games. In his 34th game of this season, Luostarinen buried his 8th.


He’s just one goal away from equaling his career-high goal total and we aren’t at the halfway point of the season yet. Luostarinen is on pace to shatter last year’s goal total. 

Five Takeaways from Panthers’ loss to Penguins

SUNRISE: The Panthers were back at home on Thursday night to faceoff against the red hot Pittsburgh Penguins, who came to Sunrise riding a six-game win streak.


Backstopped by a strong goaltending performance and a multi-point night from their captain Sidney Crosby, the Penguins defeated the Panthers 4-2, extending their win streak to seven.


Here’s tonight’s takeaways: 

The illness bug continues to bite the Panthers

Injuries aside, because this team is heavily affected by it, the Panthers have been getting hammered by the “non-COVID” illness bug. 


Florida has seen many of their big time players miss time due to illness over the last few weeks. 


Last game Carter Verhaeghe was out of the lineup; Anton Lundell hasn’t played since Dec. 1 in Vancouver, and Spencer Knight just returned to the lineup tonight after nine days. 

The Panthers had to play tonight’s game without their leading scorer Matthew Tkachuk, who is out with… an illness.


Florida had to roll 11 forwards tonight, even with today’s call up of Aleksi Heponiemi. 


Even strength scoring belonged to the Panthers

In a 4-2 loss, Florida came out on top in one category – 5-on-5 goals. 


Both of Florida’s goals tonight came at even-strength. Their opponent on the other hand, didn’t score a single one of their goals at 5-on-5.


All four of the Penguins’ goals came when they were either up a man, or down.

Pittsburgh scored twice on the power play, once shorthanded and iced the game with an empty net goal when Florida had an extra attacker. 


Tonight was a goalie battle

For fans of the man in the crease, this was the game to watch. Pittsburgh’s Tristan Jarry and Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky both battled hard to keep their team’s in the game.


For the visiting team, Jarry was the star of the game for Pittsburgh. The Pens goaltender had 32 saves on the night and kept the Panthers special teams off the scoresheet. 


Florida had a flurry of good looks in the second period, but Jarry slammed the door shut, as Pittsburgh took that period 2-0. 


On the other end of the ice, Sergei Bobrovsky started his fifth straight game, finishing the night with 35 saves and three goals against, two of which came from a Pittsburgh powerplay. 


Both goaltenders saw multiple odd-man rushes tonight and respectively followed many of those chances with big time saves.  


Ryan Lomberg played a solid game with a depleted forward lineup

Ryan Lomberg always puts in a valiant effort no matter how much ice time he gets. With 11 forwards in the lineup, two of which just came from the AHL over the last few days, the Panthers played Lomberg over 14 minutes tonight.


The 5 ‘9 forward started the game off hot with his linemate Eric Staal. The pair seemed to have a lot of chemistry with each other tonight and it paid off as they connected for the first goal of the game.

A falling Staal was able to get the puck towards goal before Lomberg was able to beat Jarry up high on a tough angle. 


Lomberg plays a fast, hard fore-checking game and tonight it was evident on how much work he does along the boards and corners.


Florida lost the game on special teams

While winning the even strength game tonight, Florida’s downfall was their special teams performance.


With the lineup having so many guys going in and out this week, the Cats had to do lots of line juggling for the special teams units. 


“We have had a different power play unit pretty much every game for the last four,” Panthers head coach Paul Maurcice said. “Start putting that together at five o’clock because the guys are coming to our lineup so late.”


On the penalty kill, Florida conceded two goals as the Penguins finished the night 2/3 on the power play. 


Florida had three power play chances of their own, however not only did they go 0/3 on the  man-advantage, they also gave up a shorthanded goal to Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang, which tied the game at one early in the second period.


The special teams battle killed the Panthers who played a relatively strong even-strength game. 

Five Takeaways from Panthers’ win over Blue Jackets

SUNRISE: It’s been a struggle as of late in Pantherland. Florida had dropped three of their last four games, as they sat in the bottom half of the tight Atlantic Division standings entering Tuesday night’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.


The Panthers were able to  shake off their shaky play from last week tonight, defeating the Blue jackets 4-0, despite missing key players on both sides of the puck.


Here’s the takeaways:

Grigori Denisenko makes his season debut

When Florida took Grigori Denisenko 15th overall in the 2018 NHL Draft, they would have liked to see their first-round pick be a consistent force in the lineup a few years down the line. 


While Florida’s next two first-round picks, Spencer Knight (2019) and Anton Lundell (2020) have both become relied upon players in the lineup, Denisenko has only skated in nine NHL games so far.


Earlier today the Panthers announced that they recalled Denisenko from the Charlotte Checkers (AHL). With Carter Verhaeghe out of the lineup tonight, the 22-year-old Denisenko made his season debut. This is only the second NHL game he has played in the last two seasons. 


Denisenko finished the night with 13:14 TOI – while getting an opportunity to play on power play unit 2. 


“I was fine with his game,” HC Paul Maurice said. “He got a bunch of minutes and he held water and was fine.” 


Multiple Panthers leave the game with injuries

 After playing just 1:06 in the first period, Colin White’s night was done. 


The Panthers announced during the first intermission that the forward would not return to the game due to an upper-body injury, leaving the Panthers with 11 forwards for the rest of the night. 


Florida were already short-handed upfront entering the game, with Anton Lundell (illness) and Carter Verhaeghe (illness) being out of the lineup, in addition to Patric Hornqvist and Anthony Duclair (hasn’t played this season) still being on LTIR.


To add salt to the wound, early in the second period, Chris Tiernery took a hard hit near center ice, resulting in him heading down the Panthers tunnel. He would also not return to the game. 


The injury woes continue to hurt the Panthers this season. Florida has had to make multiple call ups in the last two weeks, with the likes of Zac Dalpe, Chris Tierney, Matt Kiersted, Aleksi Heponiemi, Grigori Denisenko and Alex Lyon all going between Charlotte and Florida over the last 10 days. Depending on the availability of those who were out of commission tonight, there could be some more moves coming. 


Matthew Tkachuk, the multi-point king

The most consistent player on the Panthers season has been the starboy Matthew Tkachuk. 


The team leader in points added to his impressive season total, getting a goal and an assist tonight. In 28 games, Tkachuk has 39 points. 


On top of that, he extended his multi-point game total this season to 14. 


With the Panthers forwards unit being plagued with injuries, Tkachuk has been able to contribute consistently, no matter who is on his line. 


Sergei Bobrovsky gets the shutout

Bob got the net again tonight, making it his fourth straight start in goal. 


Facing his former team, Bobrovsky stopped all 22 shots he faced in his first shutout of the season. 


“I felt good, it’s a big, big two points for us… I thought the guys did a great job, they shut them down, they didn’t give them anything,” Bobrovsky said. 

Spencer Knight skated this morning with the team but was not in the lineup as he has been out with an illness for the last two weeks. The Panthers practice tomorrow ahead of their Thursday night game against Pittsburgh, so there is a possibility Bob gets the night off, with Knight getting back into the net.


Gustav Forsling hits a career milestone 

After being placed on waivers by the Carolina Hurricanes before the start of the 2020-2021 NHL season, Gustav Forsling has completely transformed his career with the Florida Panthers.


Tonight, Forsling assisted on Brandon Monotur’s goal, giving the Swedish defenseman his 100th career NHL point, in his 266th game.


Forsling very well could be the best Bill Zito acquisition.  Forsling flew under the radar during his three season spell with the Chicago Blackhawks to start his NHL career. However, after three seasons in Sunrise, Forsling has emerged as a legitimate top pair defenseman, playing top minutes every night against the best players in the world.

Panthers vs Capitals: First round preview

The regular season has finally ended. With the playoff match-ups set, the real season is about to begin. It will be Panthers vs Capitals in round one. Each playoff team in the Eastern Conference finished with more than 100 points on the season for the first time in history. Because of that, this may end up being the most competitive first round in recent memory. Despite this being the 1-8 match-up, both teams will need to earn this win. This is how the two teams stack up.

Panthers vs Capitals: Forwards

For Panthers vs Capitals, the forward battle really is strength vs strength. Any conversation about the Capitals’ forward corps begins with Alexander Ovechkin. The 36-year-old winger shows no signs of slowing down, as he notched his ninth 50 goal season in 2022. For the Panthers, he should be their primary defensive focus. Easier said than done of course, but containing the Great 8 is the key to a series win. Ovechkin has shown this year he can still win a series for a team. Although he is coming into the playoffs banged up, it should not hold him out of the series. The Panthers need to play him physically and knock him off of his preferred spots, specifically that left circle. The Panthers must also account for forwards Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson. Both finished the season with 24 goals, but present completely different challenges. Kuznetsov centers the first line with Ovechkin, the 28-year-old is a skilled play-maker and excels at getting Ovi the puck in his favored spots. The game plan against him should be similar to the game plan many teams deploy against Huberdeau: cut off the passing lanes and dare him to shoot. Not that Kuznetsov is a bad shooter, but his preference would be to pass. As for Tom Wilson, he plays opposite Ovechkin and his role is to intimidate. The bruiser has a reputation for dirty hits and foul play. He loves to get to the dirty areas of the ice and use his 6’4″ frame to bully his way into goals. The Panthers will need to be physical with Wilson, and keep him on the outside of the ice where he can be neutralized. The old guards for Washington, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie, have both had cursed seasons. Both played a huge role in their 2018 Stanley Cup win, but have been plagued with injuries this season. Despite their age, the talent remains for both these players and both bring the type of playoff experience that cannot be quantified. Undeniably, this team has offensive depth. More so, the depth has cup experience. Their one weakness as a group is that most of their forwards do not have a great two way game. That is one area the Panthers can exploit with their plethora of two way guards.

Panthers vs Capitals: Defense

While not the strength for either team, neither defense should be taken lightly. The Capitals most highly-regarded defenseman is John Carlson. He quarterbacks their power play and has a knack for setting up the offense with 54 assists on the year. However, for a number one defenseman, his play in his own zone leaves much to be desired. The 32-year-old does not have the foot speed or strength he once did to keep opposing players away from the net. He should be attacked at every opportunity in an attempt to wear him out. Their defensive depth, on the other hand, may be one of the more underrated groups in the league. Trevor van Riemsdyk has been one of the best shutdown bottom pair defensemen for quite some time now. Dmitry Orlov has an extremely strong two-way game. Justin Schultz is not having his best year, but has been very effective in the past. That defensive depth may be an area of concern for the Panthers. It will be tougher to score against this bottom four than most. Generating offense has never been a problem for the Panthers this season, but this group will not give up good looks often.

Panthers vs Capitals: Goaltending

Much like the Panthers, the Capitals biggest question mark is their goaltending. Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov have split the games fairly evenly this season, but Vanecek is the likely starter based on his numbers this season. He has a save percentage of .908 and a GAA of 2.67. Those numbers are far better than Samsonov’s, but still not great for a playoff goaltender. His negative goals saved above expected (-5.4) also suggests he does not provide enough of a presence during the playoffs. Goaltending may end up proving to be the Achilles heel for both these teams. Even with Bobrovsky’s inconsistency, he has greatly outperformed Vanecek this season. With the way the Panthers generate offense, it will take elite goaltending to slow them down, and Vanecek is far from elite.

Final Prediction

Washington is no cakewalk. Their potent offense and playoff experience confirm they will not be broken easily. Still, I do not think they do enough to counteract the Panthers’ strengths. It’ll be the Florida Panthers in six games.  

***This article was originally published on the ATB Network by Samuel Schettrit***

  Hussam Patel is a Miami Dolphins contributor and Lead NFL Draft analyst at Five Reasons Sports Network, Director of Scouting at PhinManiacs and Editor at Dolphins ATB. Follow him on Twitter at @HussamPatel

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Meaningful May in Miami Sports is Here

May is setting up to be a memorable month in Miami sports.

It’s an exciting time as May ushers in multiple post-season series for Miami sports fans.

The East in both the NBA and NHL runs through South Florida.

Hell, even the Marlins are giving us hope (for now).


Not to mention a great end to the week with the Miami Grand Prix at Hard Rock Stadium.


The Miami Heat and Florida Panthers will each be in the spotlight this week.

Starting Monday the Heat and Panthers alternate game nights, including four consecutive South Florida home contests.

These are two teams that are stylistically different yet similarly effective, these matchups offer something for everyone.

Heat match up with Sixers in East semifinals

The Heat begin the second round of the NBA Playoffs against a weakened Philadelphia 76ers squad.


Without Embiid for the time being, this becomes a drastically different series.

Philadelphia will need more offense from James Harden, who averaged just 14 points-per-game versus Miami this season.

The Heat want teams to try and beat them from beyond the arc, and in this matchup Philadelphia will likely oblige.

That may not always work out for Miami as Philadelphia shot 40.8% from deep in the opening round.

The emergence of Tyrese Maxey has given the Sixers another option on the perimeter.

Maxey has played well in the playoffs and against Miami (21.3 PPG), how the Heat defend him could be a key to the series.

Is the the Panthers’ year?

Across the county line in Broward, the high-flying Florida Panthers open their post-season Tuesday against Washington.

Fresh off their first ever Presidents’ Trophy for the NHL’s best record, expectations are at an all-time high for the Panthers.


Unlike their colleagues on Biscayne, the Panthers are not terribly worried about defense.

The Panthers simply attack and overwhelm opposing teams with line after line of skill.


Washington played the Panthers tough this year; each game was decided by a single goal with the Cats winning two out of three.

The status of Alex Ovechkin is something to watch as he missed the final three games of the regular season with an upper body injury.

Ovechkin has never missed a playoff game due to injury, and if he is close to healthy expect the NHL’s third all-time leading goal scorer to play.

The Panthers have two superstars in Sasha Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau, who just led the NHL in assists.

No team scored more goals or took more shots than the Panthers, with any semblance of goaltending the Cats should advance easily.

So relax, crack open a Biscayne Bay Brew, and enjoy this week for the ages Miami sports fans!

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Florida Panthers clinch No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference

SUNRISE – The Florida Panthers have officially clinched the first seed in the Eastern Conference for the first time in franchise history on Thursday night. 

After a 5-2 home win over the Detroit Red Wings earlier in the night, Florida had to wait for the Tampa – Toronto game to go final before they could be named the first seed for the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Toronto’s loss to Tampa was enough for Florida to lock up the top seed with five games left in the regular season. Alongside the first seed, they are also the 2021-2022 Atlantic Division Champions. 

Florida will have home ice for the entirety of the Eastern Conference side of the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Panthers currently sit atop the NHL standings with 118 points in 77 games. The Colorado Avalanche is the only team that can catch Florida for the President’s Trophy, they sit atop the Western Conference and second in the NHL with 116 points in 77 games.

As the first seed, Florida will play the second wild card team in the East in the first round.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are set to begin on May 2.