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Cats & Blueshirts: RD3, GM3

May 26, 2024, 2:53 PM ET [1 Comments]
Matt Ross
Florida Panthers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Game 2 did not go the Panthers way, and so Florida enters Game 3 on home ice with the series tied at 1-1.

The Rangers had a much better game Friday night, but were still shut down for long stretches - most notably the 10-12 minutes between the end of the second and start of the third where they did not have a shot on net. That is very encouraging for Panthers fans.

While the Cats were stellar on the PK, smothering the league’s best Power Play team 0/4, they simply cannot continue to roll the dice in this area of the game. Penalties will happen. That’s part of the game. But giving New York 12 minutes on the man advantage can’t happen again. That’s over half a period of PP time…have to be more disciplined.

Despite having different approaches and talents, games 1 and 2 showed how close these teams are. While the Panthers won 3-0 in Game 1, it really could have been a 1-0 win. I say this because Florida had the luck of the Lafrenière goal and then an empty-netter. Game 2 saw them net only one goal and fall behind NY in SOG (27/30) — a rarity for a Cats team that typically pours the shots on.

These two teams are evenly matched and both led by outstanding goaltending. Kind of feels like a win will come down to which goalie blinks first.

I saw an interesting debate on in a Panthers comment section where fans discussed the idea of the Cats getting away from their defensive-minded approach and focusing more on an offensive onslaught.

For me, Florida should keep doing what they’re doing. It’s not like they’re shutting NY down for a minute or two here and there. They are stifling the Rangers for minutes on end, preventing them from generating any kind of offensive pressure for long stretches. This is huge and should not be messed with. Why change that game plan?

Instead of taking the foot off the heavy forecheck/overall team defense pedal, they can make tweaks to the offensive chances they are getting.

Similar to the Boston series with Swayman, it’s going to be very difficult to beat Shesterkin straight on. He’s too good. Verhaeghe’s Game 2 goal was only possible due to Rodrigues taking Shesterkin’s eyes away by literally standing in front and screening him. Florida lacked serious consistency in the traffic department during Game 2.

The Cats can very easily play their defensive game AND improve their chances through net-front presence. Keep in mind that the Game 1 Lafrenière goal only happens because he felt the pressure of a Panther crashing the net. If we don’t have a guy coming in hard, he has no reason to lay his stick down to take away the pass and that puck probably passes through harmlessly.

At 1-1, it’s essentially a new series. Being on home ice has its advantages, but Florida can’t rely on that. Stick to the hefty forecheck, get pucks/bodies to the net, and hope that Bob stays locked in.

BTW - I thought Lomberg was fantastic in Game 2. Best Panther on the ice in my opinion. Cats need his energy to spread throughout the lineup. I loved the shot of him and Rempe lining up for the faceoff. It looked like Wolverine standing next to Colossus (haha).

We have ourselves a huge matinee game on our hands!


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