The Wraparound: Panthers have reason for concern

The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2022 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down the NHL playoff games today with the all-important television information.

• Catch up with all of Sunday’s Stanley Cup playoff action with the NHL Rink Wrap right here

Brad Marchand had a gigantic game for the Bruins on Sunday with a five-point effort to help them even their series with the Hurricanes at two games apiece. 

• The Blues made a goalie switch for their series against the Wild. 

This year is supposed to be different for the Florida Panthers. This is the team that is supposed to change the narrative of the franchise and help it find real postseason success for the first time since its miracle run to the 1996 Stanley Cup Final, which remains the last time the franchise actually won a playoff series.

The Panthers finished the 2021-22 regular season with the league’s best record, claiming its first Presidents’ Trophy in franchise history, and became the first team in 25 years to average more than four goals per game over an 82-game season. On top of that, it came into the playoffs looking like an absolute wagon by winning 23 of 28 games (23-4-1) since the start of March.

They entered the playoffs as heavy favorites against the Washington Capitals in their First Round series and were considered a near lock to move on to at least the Second Round.

Nobody told that to the Capitals.

Florida enters Game 4 on Monday night not only facing a 2-1 deficit, but also looking like a team that has some significant questions and concerns to deal with, having been outplayed for most of the first three games of the series.

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 First Round schedule, TV info]

As good as the Panthers were during the regular season there were still a handful of red flags that seemed like they could show up in the playoffs to cause some problems. For starters, the Panthers are a team that generates a lot of their offense off of the rush. That does not always lend itself to success in the playoffs. They also are not an outstanding team defensively, while also having a pretty significant question mark in goal.

High scoring teams that are not great defensively and have sketchy goaltending situations are typically one of the first types of teams to get upset in the playoffs. The first three games of this series have not done much to change that narrative. The Panthers have not been able to take advantage of the Capitals in transition, while Washington has done an excellent job locking down the neutral zone and pressuring Florida’s defense. Sergei Bobrovsky had a strong start through the first two games, but started to show some cracks in Washington’s 6-1 Game 3 win on Saturday. These are not concerns that you can just simply fix at this point.

Even though Washington is the eighth playoff team in the Eastern Conference this is no pushover matchup. The Capitals not only finished the regular season with more than 100 points in the standings, this is a seasoned, veteran team that has been through everything there is to experience in the playoffs. They have seen it all, and there is not anything that is going to surprise, scare, or intimidate them. They are not going to be rattled at the first sight of adversity. We do not know that quite yet about this Panthers team.

We might soon find out about that, though, because all of the pressure in this series rests with them right now. They have probably already lost more games than most people expected them to lose in the series and they are facing the potential for a 3-1 series deficit if they do not fix things on Monday night in Washington.

NHL PLAYOFF GAMES TODAY

Game 4: Florida Panthers at Washington Capitals, 7 p.m. ET — TBS (WSH leads 2-1): If Ilya Samsonov can build on his Game 3 performance and give the Capitals another strong goaltending performance they could push the Panthers to the brink of elimination when the series shifts back to Florida on Wednesday. The Capitals look like a team that still has some fight even though it is one of the older teams in the league. The Panthers need to find that offense that dominated the NHL during the regular season.

Game 4: New York Rangers at Pittsburgh Penguins, 7 p.m. ET — ESPN (PIT leads 2-1): This series has been wild so far with a triple overtime game, a third string goalie, and that wild Game 3 on Saturday. The Penguins got some depth scoring on Saturday, while Sidney Crosby‘s line has been absolutely dominant so far in the playoffs. After scoring just four goals in four games against Igor Shesterkin and the Rangers during the regular season, the Penguins have already scored 10 goals against Shesterkin and chased him from a game in the first three games of this series. You should probably expect Shesterkin to be better in this game.

Game 4: Colorado Avalanche at Nashville Predators, 9:30 p.m. ET — ESPN (COL leads 3-0): The Avalanche have a chance to be the first team to advance to the Second Round if they can beat Nashville and complete the First Round sweep. Given the fact that Nashville does not have Juuse Saros that result probably would not be a major shock. The big question for Colorado right now is going to be the availability of Darcy Kuemper, who was injured in the Game 3 win.

Game 4: Calgary Flames at Dallas Stars, 9:30 p.m. ET — TBS (DAL leads 2-1): This has been one of the more surprising series so far with the Stars jumping out to an early 2-1 series lead and taking home-ice advantage away from the Flames so far. Jake Oettinger has been outstanding in net for Dallas, while Joe Pavelski has been taking over offensively already scoring three of the Stars’ first six goals in the series. That also gives you an idea of what this series has been about. The Stars have scored only six goals in the first three games of the series and still lead the series 2-1 heading into Game 4.

TUESDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Game 5: Boston Bruins at Carolina Hurricanes, 7 p.m. ET — ESPN (Series tied 2-2)
Game 5: Tampa Bay Lightning at Toronto Maple Leafs, 7:30 p.m. ET — ESPN2 (Series tied 2-2)
Game 5: St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild, 9:30 p.m. ET — ESPN (Series tied 2-2)
Game 5: Los Angeles Kings at Edmonton Oilers, 10 p.m. ET — ESPN2 (Series tied 2-2)

PHT’s 2022 Stanley Cup previews
Maple Leafs vs. Lightning

Hurricanes vs. Bruins
• Penguins vs. Rangers
• Panthers vs. Capitals
Blues vs. Wild
• Avalanche vs. Predators
Oilers vs. Kings
Flames vs. Stars

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info
First Round, Stanley Cup predictions
• NHL Draft Lottery set: Canadiens have best odds for top pick
Why your team will (and will not) win the Stanley Cup

Scroll Down For: