The Florida Panthers find themselves down 2-0 in the Stanley Cup Final after a disappointing performance against the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday. The Panthers were outmatched in the 7-2 loss and need to rally to turn things around in Games 3 and 4.
Despite their strong performances in the playoffs thus far, the Panthers have struggled against the Golden Knights. They need to improve their defense against the rush if they hope to win. Florida’s defense allowed an average of 2.6 goals in their first 16 playoff games but gave up 12 goals in the first two games of the final.
Even goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, the hottest in hockey coming into the final, was pulled midway through Game 2 after allowing four goals on 13 shots. He has a 5.52 goals-against average and .826 save percentage so far in the final, a significant drop from his usual performance.
The Panthers also took 14 penalties, including two misconducts by MVP finalist and alternate captain Matthew Tkachuk. While Tkachuk insists the team is playing its brand of physical hockey, the Golden Knights capitalized on Florida’s 130 penalty minutes and went 4 for 11 (36.4%) on the power play. The Panthers need to improve their penalty kill if they hope to turn things around at home.
Florida needs to rediscover the magic that brought them past three opponents they weren’t expected to beat. Tkachuk is confident that the team can come back on their home turf and play their best hockey of the season. The Panthers need their fans on their side and strong performances from their stars if they hope to make this a series.