When the Florida Panthers lined up for practice on Sunday afternoon in Washington, all of their lines and defensive pairings from Saturday afternoon’s humbling loss to the Capitals in Game 3 were the same.
Coach Andrew Brunette said there could be some changes before Monday night, however.
On Monday morning, with his team taking an optional skate, he said there were no changes to the lineup.
The Florida Panthers are boxed into a bit of a corner here, down 2-1 in a best-of-7 series with Game 4 in Washington.
Florida, the top seed in the entire NHL after the most successful regular season in franchise history, cannot afford to come home trailing 3-1.
There is a lot of pressure on the Panthers right now.
”I think we are considering everything,’’ Brunette said when asked about the lineup on Sunday.
“I think it was nice to have that day after an afternoon game to have some time to think back and make an educated decision.”
Brunette was also asked about his defensive pairings, a group he has been reticent to mess with aside from in the latter stages of the regular season when he was trying out a number of new looks.
With Aaron Ekblad back from injury, he and MacKenzie Weegar have been reunited and are on the same pair as they have been for the past few seasons.
Although Weegar expressed his extreme willingness to continue with Ekblad before the series started, he did play some great games last season — and this past one — with Gus Forsling as his partner.
With Weegar not having a great series so far (his turnover in Game 1 led to the game-tying goal and getting beat in the corner and turning over the puck in Game 3 led to another) perhaps the Panthers would look at trying something different.
The problem with that is, Ekblad really has not played with anyone other than Weegar over the past few seasons.
The two obviously pair well together, but Weegar and Forsling were really good in their time last season.
“I think everything is on the table,” Brunette reiterated. “We had a day reprieve here to go over some things. We’ll make some decisions tomorrow.”
— Sergei Bobrovsky took Sunday off as the Florida Panthers had Spencer Knight and Jonas Johansson in net for practice.
Brunette said it was just a maintenance day for Bobrovsky and he would be ready for Monday night.
— Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov was been fined the maximum allowed $5,000 for his high-sticking of Noel Acciari during the first period of Saturday’s game.
There was no penalty called on the play.
— Tom Wilson remains out for the Capitals.
NHL STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
PANTHERS V. CAPITALS (WSH leads 2-1)
- Game 4: Monday, 7 p.m.
- Where: Capital One Arena, Washington D.C.
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, TBS
- Radio: WQAM 560 (Miami/Fort Lauderdale); WMEN 640 (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3 (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Draft Kings odds — Florida favored: Money Line (-180); Puck line (-1.5, +140); Over/Under 6.5 (-130/+110); Series (-135)
- Tickets: CLICK HERE
PANTHERS V. CAPITALS
- Regular season series — Florida won 2-1: @Florida 5, Washington 4 OT (Nov. 4); @Washington 4, Panthers 3 (Nov. 26); @Florida 5, Washington 4 (Nov. 30)
- All-time regular season series: Capitals lead 67-44-11, 9 ties
- Playoff history: First meeting
- First-round schedule — Game 1: Washington 4, @Florida 2; Game 2: @Florida 5, Washington 1; Game 3: @Washington 6, Florida 1; Game 4: Florida at Washington, Monday, 7 (TBS/BSF); Game 5: Washington at Florida, Wednesday, 7:30 (ESPN2/BSF); Game 6*: Florida at Washington, Friday; Game 7: Washington at Florida, May 15. *If necessary
PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINEUP
Coach: Andrew Brunette
11 Jonathan Huberdeau // 16 Sasha Barkov // 10 Anthony Duclair
23 Carter Verhaeghe // 8 Sam Bennett // 13 Sam Reinhart
17 Mason Marchment // 15 Anton Lundell // 28 Claude Giroux
55 Noel Acciari // 27 Eetu Luostarinen // 70 Patric Hornqvist
52 MacKenzie Weegar // 5 Aaron Ekblad
42 Gus Forsling // 7 Radko Gudas
8 Ben Chiarot // 62 Brandon Montour
72 Sergei Bobrovsky
30 Spencer Knight
PP1: Reinhart – Barkov – Giroux – Huberdeau – Ekblad
PP2: Hornqvist – Bennett – Duclair – Marchment – Montour
Scratched: Lucas Carlsson, Petteri Lindbohm, Joe Thornton, Maxim Mamin, Robert Hagg, Jonas Johansson, Ryan Lomberg
Injured: Markus Nutivaara (LTIR)
PROJECTED WASHINGTON CAPITALS LINEUP
Coach: Peter Laviolette
8 Alex Ovechkin // 92 Evgeny Kuznetsov // 77 T.J. Oshie
90 Marcus Johansson // 19 Nicklas Backstrom // 39 Anthony Mantha
24 Connor McMichael // 20 Lars Eller // 73 Conor Sheary
22 Johan Larsson // 26 Nic Dowd // 21 Garnet Hathaway
42 Martin Fehervary // 74 John Carlson
9 Dmitri Orlov // 3 Nick Jensen
57 Trevor van Riemsdyk // 2 Justin Schultz
30 Ilya Samsonov
41 Vitek Vanecek
PP1: Oshie – Backstrom – Kuznetsov – Ovechkin – Carlson
PP2: Johansson – Sheary – Mantha – Schultz – Orlov
Injured: Tom Wilson (d2d, LBI)
Washington Capitals lines courtesy WashingtonHockeyNow.Com