The Vegas Golden Knights are one win away from their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. The Florida Panthers are playing for their lives. Does the series come to an end tonight in game 5? The last one is the hardest one to win and Florida is expected to throw it all at Vegas and leave it all on the ice. However, there may be one injury to a top star that could hinder the Panthers opportunity to come back in any fashion.
Can the Vegas Golden Knights end the series in game 5?
Montour a factor for Florida
Panthers defenseman Brandon Montour has been one of the bright spots for the Panthers. He has been good offensively, has shut down the Vegas forwards from scoring, played a physical role when called upon, and has been excellent on the power play. If Vegas is going to end this series sooner than later, Montour will need to be a non-factor. The way to get Montour to be a non-factor for the Golden Knights is to have certain players stick to him like glue and use a physical style against him so he has no room to operate. IN the 2023 NHL playoffs, Montour has eight goals and four assists for 12 points, an average of 27 minutes on the ice, 28 blocked shots, and 28 hits. Aside from teammate Matthew Tkachuk, Montour has been the best player for Florida.
Will Tkachuk injury hurt Florida?
Tkachuk was injured from a hit by Golden Knights forward Keegan Kolesar in game 3. Tkachuk played a small amount then was sat down. He only played 17 minutes in game 4, including sitting the final five minutes. In warm ups, he struggled to get any weight behind any shots taken and looked to be favoring his shoulder/ collarbone area. Tkachuk is the leading scorer for the Panthers in teh 2023 NHL playoffs but there is no question he is hurt bad. Tkachuk will play in game 5 because it is the SCF but does him playing hurt not only himself but the team as well? Tkachuk is not close to 100%, which most players on either team are not. Considering how pivotal he has been can head coach Paul Maurice play him as much as possible without cutting his minutes? How will Tkachuk’s line mates and the rest of the team react to him playing hurt? Will Vegas try to go after the injury? A lot to watch for in game 5.
Nothing to lose for Florida in game 5
The Florida Panthers have to take the rest of the series game by game. They have everything to lose but also have nothing to lose. They lose game 5 and their season is done. In that case, they have nothing to lose as far as game play goes. An all-out attack from opening puck drop, send the defensemen on the rush at every opportunity, to take chances responsibly, shoot the puck from anywhere, and let the Vegas Golden Knights take the penalties. The Panthers have been extremely physical this series, including a number of misconducts, but they have to play to win. Playing an overly physical game will cause them to play from behind, and that is something they cannot afford to do. Throw everything at Vegas because this may be their last chance to do so.
Vegas Golden Knights rolling at the right time
If the Golden Knights do win the Stanley Cup, they picked a perfect time to go on a small run. Vegas is 4-1 in their last five games, outscoring the opposition 23-9. This win streak is due to complete efforts from the team game in and game out. Every Vegas Golden Knights player is doing what they are told to do, not missing any assignments , and everything is clicking. Two of the Golden Knights hottest players are forward Jonathan Marchessault and goaltender Adin Hill and they are streaking at the right time as well. Marchessault has five goals and three assists for eight points in his last five. Hill is 4-1 with one shutout, nine goals against, and a save percentage of .936. These players are two players Vegas relies on heavily and two that will help the Vegas Golden Knights hopefully bring the Stanley Cup to Vegas.
Can Bobrovksy bring the Panthers back from elimination?
While he has not been horrible, Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovksy has not been the same Bobrovsky as he was in the series prior. He has been steady but against a team like Vegas he needed to rise above and he has not so far. If the Panthers are to come back and make this a series again, Bobrovksy will need to be the main factor. He has shown the potential to steal games, and series, in these playoffs and will need to be elite again. Bobrovsky is capable of getting this to a game seven but he, like the rest of the Panthers, needs to play this game 5 period by period.
Projected Lineups for the Vegas Golden Knights and Florida Panthers
Vegas Golden Knights
Ivan Barbashev- Jack Eichel- Jonathan Marchessault
Reilly Smith- William Karlsson- Michael Amadio
Brett Howden- Chandler Stephenson- Mark Stone
William Carrier- Nicolas Roy- Keegan Kolesar
Alec Martinez- Alec Pietrangelo
Brayden McNabb- Shea Theodore
Nicolas Hague- Zach Whitecloud
Adin Hill-Jonathan Quick
Injuries: Laurent Brossoit (lower-body), Logan Thompson (undisclosed)
Scratched: Teddy Blueger, Paul Cotter, Ben Hutton, Phil Kessel, Kaeden Korczak, Brayden Pachal, Jiri Patera
Carter Verhaeghe- Aleksander Barkov- Anthony Duclair
Nick Cousins- Sam Bennett- Matthew Tkachuk
Ryan Lomberg- Anton Lundell-Sam Reinhart
Zac Dalpe- Eric Staal-Colin White
Gustav Forsling- Aaron Ekblad
Marc Staal-Brandon Montour
Josh Mahura- Radko Gudas
Sergei Bobrovsky- Alex Lyon
Injuries: Eetu Luostarinen (undisclosed), Patric Hornqvist (concussion)
Scratched: Givani Smith, Mike Benning, Casey Fitzgerald, Evan Fitzpatrick, Lucas Carlsson, Mack Guzda, Matt Kierstad, Grigori Denisenko, Aleksi Heponiemi, Mackie Samoskevich, Connor Bunnaman, Patrick Giles, John Ludvig, Santtu Kinnunen, Calle Sjalin
Where to watch
TNT, TBS, truTV, CBC, SN, TVAS