The Florida Panthers began this Eastern Conference Final with an exciting four-overtime win over the Carolina Hurricanes. The game was evenly played and neither team had a clear advantage throughout the game.
Game 2, also from PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina, takes place on Saturday night. This, too, should come down to the wire as expectations are in place for another classic.
The Carolina Hurricanes will look to tie the series in Game 2.
What do the Panthers need to change?
Although the Panthers won the game, there is one thing they could work on in Game 2: the power play. In Game 1, Florida went 0-for-3 on the man advantage and did not have many good scoring chances.
Florida forward Matthew Tkachuk could be one to look at in Game 2 as one who could change the power play numbers. He is great in front of the net, can deflect pucks from anywhere, provides screens, and can move defensemen because of his strength.
Hurricanes need to capitalize on open space
With the speed at which both teams play, there is always an opportunity for a scoring chance. Carolina lost by one goal in Game 1 and had some missed opportunities that eventually cost them. Florida has been hot as of late, and the Canes need to bury those chances.
Putting one past Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky will not be easy, but Carolina has to find solutions before it is too late. This is the ECF, where teams do not give up many chances. However, if those chances are presented to said teams, chances have to be buried.
Hurricanes players left open
As mentioned above, chances have to be buried. In Game 1, some Hurricanes players were left open due to bad Florida coverage but could not take advantage, costing them a 1-0 series lead.
Florida is capable of giving up chances to their opponents, leaving players open in the defensive zone. Carolina has a grind-it-out style in the offensive zone and should be able to put in a few dirty goals in this series. Bobrovsky is not great from side to side in the crease, so that could be an option.
Carolina could benefit from a strong start
In order to get into the heads of Panthers players, the Canes need a strong start to Game 2. Whether it is a goal, a big hit, a big save, or even a fight, something needs to happen.
Game 1 was not a game that Carolina wanted to lose and it showed. However, they did have a week off between the end of the second round and the start of the ECF. The Hurricanes were sluggish due to lack of gameplay for so long but got back to the game they play and almost pulled it off.
Eliminate the Tkachuk factor
Florida has greatly benefited from acquiring Matthew Tkachuk. He can do so many things that benefit the Panthers and lead to their success. Carolina wants to change that and eliminate the Tkachuk factor.
The Hurricanes need to be disciplined enough but at the same time draw Tkachuk into taking penalties and keep him off the ice as much as possible. The less of a factor he is, the greater chance of a Carolina win.
How much fatigue will there be from Game 1?
Game 1 between Florida and Carolina is one we will remember for a while. Chance after chance, teams going north to south at full speed. There is one thing that could affect both teams in Game 2, especially if the game goes into overtime, and that is fatigue.
Game 1 lasted 139 minutes and 47 seconds. Panthers defenseman Brandon Montour played 57:56, Aaron Ekblad played 52:10, and Gustav Forsling played 55:41.
For the Hurricanes, it was the defensemen getting the most time as well. Defenseman Brent Burns played 54:33 and Jaccob Slavin played 51:41.
Both teams had Friday off, but one wonders how much fatigue will be a factor, especially for the defensemen for both teams as they logged an incredible amount of ice time.
Projected lineups for the Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers
Stefan Noesen- Sebastian Aho- Seth Jarvis
Jordan Martinook- Jesperi Kotkaniemi- Jesper Fast
Teuvo Teravainen- Jordan Staal- Martin Necas
Jack Drury- Paul Stastny- Derek Stepan
Jaccob Slavin- Brent Burns
Brady Skjei- Brett Pesce
Shayne Gostisbehere- Jalen Chatfield
Frederik Andersen- Antti Raanta
Scratched: Jesse Puljujarvi, Mackenzie MacEachern, Calvin de Haan, Dylan Coghlan, Pyotr Kochetkov, Ville Koivunen, Vasily Ponomarev, Jamieson Rees, Ryan Suzuki, Maxime Lajoie, Zack Sawchenko.
Carter Verhaeghe- Aleksander Barkov- Anthony Duclair
Nick Cousins- Sam Bennett- Matthew Tkachuk
Eetu Luostarinen- Anton Lundell- Sam Reinhart
Ryan Lomberg- Eric Staal- Colin White
Gustav Forsling-Aaron Ekblad
Marc Staal- Brandon Montour
Josh Mahura- Radko Gudas
Sergei Bobrovsky- Alex Lyon
Injuries: Patric Hornqvist (concussion)
Scratched: Zac Dalpe, Givani Smith, Mike Benning, Casey Fitzgerald, Evan Fitzpatrick
Lineups via NHL.com
Where to watch
TNT, CBC< SN, TVAS