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FLA vs CAR: Eastern Conference Final, GM 3

May 22, 2023, 4:24 PM ET [22 Comments]
Matt Ross
Florida Panthers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
It was Matthew Tkachuk once again who would prevail as the the OT hero for the Florida Panthers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Let’s watch it again because it was an incredible passing play and finish.

There’s no doubt about it that Tkachuk is this team’s heartbeat and spark plug. He is (same with Bob) the main reason the Panthers are in the position they are in. It’s also worth noting that another Tkachuk may have played a part in the Panthers late season turn around and eventual postseason run. Hard-nosed winger in his day — and Matthew’s dad — Keith Tkachuk, called the Panthers “soft” on TSN radio. This happened around the same time head coach Paul Maurice berated his team on the bench in Toronto. For those who doubt the power of a reality check, look to the numbers after Keith’s comments and Maurice’s action:

Coming home to to Florida with a 2-0 series lead to host Game 3 should be a big boost for the Cats and the fans. As Tkachuk put it, “It’s a chance to play in front of our fans. It’s an exciting time for us. We’re going to come out buzzing.”

Coming out buzzing and taking it to a Carolina team that’s down two games would be great. So far, the Canes seem to dictate the strong play off the bat. Florida has done a good job of weathering the storm (pun intended) but I would like to see them start strong tonight and crush the Canes spirits early.

The Panthers psychological warfare these playoffs is similar to the “rope-a-dope” boxing technique used a lot by Muhammad Ali in his fights. This approach sees a fighter take on a barrage of their opponent’s attack. While it looks like bad news for the guy taking the blows, it’s actually a trap. The boxer dishing out the punches eventually tires himself out and that’s when the other guy attacks - when his opponent is mentally and physically exhausted.

Obviously, this is not what the Panthers are consciously doing. However, there have been a lot of instances this postseason where they have taken on a team’s heavy offensive attack, only to escape either unscathed or with minimal damage (one or two goals). After this, they manage to tip the scales offensively and strike at the opportune time — after forcing a turnover or in OT.

While it can be stressful at times, it’s also awesome to watch!

As with the last blog, I expect another tight game tonight. Barkov’s flashy goal in Game 2 should keep him motivated. It’s been nice seeing supporting cast players contributing as well. Though they might not always get on the scoresheet, guys like Cousins, Mahura, etc., are playing smart hockey. Mahura had a particularly good Game 2 on Saturday night. He threaded the pass to Barkov that would eventually turn into the tying goal for Florida.

Stay strong, Bob!

Let’s take Game 3…GO PANTHERS!
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