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2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Round 2 – Game No. 2: Lines, Odds for Panthers at Maple Leafs

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Panthers leafs
Sam Reinhart and Matthew Tkachuk celebrate after Brandon Montour tied the score in Game 7 against Boston on Sunday night. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

The Florida Panthers enter Game 2 of their second-round series against the host Toronto Maple Leafs in a position they have not been in since 1997: With a 1-0 series lead.

In that 1997 series, Florida dropped the next four games to the New York Rangers to fall in the first round, kicking off what was a 26-year playoff series drought.

The same sentiment has been true in this year’s playoffs. Winning Game 1 does not win you the series.

Boston won Game 1 (and went up 3-1) against the Panthers and fell in 7.

The New York Rangers took a 2-0 series lead with convincing victories over the New Jersey Devils and blew the lead when rookie goaltender Akira Schmid went in and stole the momentum.

While taking a lead gives you momentum — both in a game and a series — that momentum has to be managed constantly or else it could swing in the other direction at any time.

“I’m not a big believer in momentum,” coach Paul Maurice said.

“It changes every time the puck drops. We make it 2-0 and we’re probably feeling pretty good about our game and you make it 2-1 and they are rolling. It will get re-established when the puck drops and you got to do it shift by shift.”

Florida has given itself an advantage because it has played its game this way for almost three months.

Every game they’ve played since mid-February has had that “must-win” mentality as they climbed back into a playoff spot.

And they have found a formula that works in the process.

“Every night is a Game 7 for us and it has been that way for a while,” Sam Reinhart said.

“We are just in a pretty good rhythm and a pretty good routine and whatever happens we kind shake it up and go back to ground level where we should be and refocus.”

The Panthers will come into Game 2 with the same lineup they have rolled out since Game 4 of the Bruins series.

FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (ATL2) VS. FLORIDA PANTHERS (WC2)
GAME 2 (Panthers Lead 1-0)

PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINEUP

23 Carter Verhaeghe // 16 Sasha Barkov // 10 Anthony Duclair

21 Nick Cousins // 9 Sam Bennett // 19 Matthew Tkachuk

27 Eetu Luostarinen // 15 Anton Lundell // 13 Sam Reinhart

22 Zac Dalpe // 12 Eric Staal // 6 Colin White

42 Gus Forsling // 5 Aaron Ekblad

18 Marc Staal // 62 Brandon Montour

28 Josh Mahura // 7 Radko Gudas

72 Sergei Bobrovsky

34 Alex Lyon

Scratched: Mike Benning, Evan Fitzpatrick, Givani Smith, Casey Fitzgerald

Injured: Patric Hornqvist (LTIR-concussion), Ryan Lomberg (hand)

PROJECTED TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS LINEUP

23 Matthew Knies // 34 Auston Matthews // 88 William Nylander

19 Calle Jarnkrok // 91 John Tavares // 16 Mitch Marner

58 Michael Bunting // Ryan O’Reilly // 52 Noel Acciari

28 Sam Lafferty // 64 David Kampf // 15 Alexander Kerfoot

22 Jake McCabe // 78 T.J. Brodie

44 Morgan Reilly // 2 Luke Schenn

55 Mark Giordano // 37 Timothy Liljegren

35 Ilya Samsonov

60 Joseph Woll

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