The Florida Panthers have a chance to go up 3-0 in the ECF against the Carolina Hurricanes. The Panthers have been the story of the playoffs and look to keep their winning streak going. Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk has been on fire, scoring two game winning goals. Does Carolina have a bounce back game in game 3, or does Florida put a stranglehold on the series?
Florida Panthers playing with house money
Carolina has a chance on the road
The Hurricanes have played well enough to have a win in the series. They have played well enough at home but games 3 and 4 of this series are on the road. In the 2023 NHL playoffs, The Canes are only 3-2 on the road, yet it is still a winning record. This may be the perfect time to play relaxed hockey on the road, without the nervousness of the home crowd. The Canes have a chance to take the Florida crowd out early by either controlling the play or scoring an early goal.
Florida led by Tkachuk and Sergei Bobrovksy
Panthers forward Tkachuk and goaltender Bobrovsky have led the way for the Panthers this postseason. Tkachuk is third in playoff scoring with 18 points in seven goals and 11 assists. He has a +12 rating and has 22 penalty minutes. Bobrovsky leads all goaltenders in the 2023 NHL playoffs in wins (9) and saves (433). He is tied for second with a save percentage of .931.
Stop the Florida power play
The Hurricanes have the best penalty kill unit in the 2023 NHL playoffs at 88.9%. However, the Panthers sixth best power play at 25.7%. Currently, the Panthers are 1-6 in the first two games but are up 2-0 in the series. This is the one strong suit for Carolina and something they have controlled in both games. The Canes need to stay disciplined on the penalty kill because that system is still working. If Florida gets going on the power play, the Canes could see their chance to play for Lord Stanley be put on hold.
Scoring chances not an issue for either team
The Hurricanes and Panthers have both played similar games so far in the ECF. Not a lot of scoring but the play has been wide open. In the playoffs, Florida is giving up 37.6 shots per game, while the Hurricanes are close to that average at taking 36.1 shots per game. Bobrovsky and Carolina goaltender Frederik Andersen have both played elite hockey between the pipes, stopping most of the chances that come their way. There has been no shortage of scoring chances in this series as both teams have exploited the weaknesses in the opposing defenses.
Carolina forwards need to step up
The Hurricanes have team speed as one of their elite traits. That speed accounts for most of their scoring chances off of their transition game. Carolina has had chances to put the puck past Bobrovsky but he has been a brick wall. Three Canes players have to step up in this series in order for the Hurricanes to have a chance. Stefan Noesen (8 points), Martin Necas (7 points), and Jesperi Kotkaniemi (6 points) have to start contributing on the offensive end. Teammate Sebastian Aho cannot score himself the further the Canes play into the playoffs.
Projected Lineups for the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes
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, Lucas Carlsson, Mack Guzda, Matt Kierstad, Grigori Denisenko, Aleksi Heponiemi, Mackie Samoskevich, Connor BUnnamen, Paterick Giles, John Ludvig, Santtu KInnunen, Calle Sjalin
Stefan Noesen- Sebastian Aho- Seth Jarvis
Jordan Martinook- Jesperi Kotkaniemi- Jesper Fast
Teuvo Teravainen- Jordan Staal- Martin Necas
Jack Drury- Paul Stastny- Mackenzie MacEachern
Jaccob Slavin- Brent Burns
Brady Skeji- Brett Pesce
Shayne Gostisbehere- Jalen Chatfield
frederik Andersen- Antti Raanta
Scratched: Jesse Puljujarvi, Derek Stephan, Calvin de Haan, Dylan Coghlan, Pyotr Kochetkov, Ville Koivunen, Vasily Ponomarev, Jamieson Rees, Ryan Suzuki, Maxime Lajoie, Zach Sawchenko
Lineups via nhl.com
Where to watch: ESPN, ESPN2, TBS, TNT