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2024 Stanley Cup Final

How the Florida Panthers Look Without Captain Sasha Barkov



Panthers barkov
Panthers captain Sasha Barkov, right, congratulating Oliver Ekman-Larsson after a goal against Colorado in January, appears to have a jaw injury after getting hit by Leon Draisaitl’s elbow in Game 2 on Monday night. // Photo courtesy @FlaPanthers

SUNRISE — If Sasha Barkov is unable to play in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final on Thursday night in Edmonton, the Florida Panthers will have a much different look.

That is pretty obvious.

Barkov was knocked out of Florida’s 4-1 win over the Oilers in Game 2 — a victory which gave the Panthers a 2-0 series lead — after Leon Draisaitl launched himself into Barkov’s jaw.

There is a possibility Draisaitl could be suspended for leaving his feet to deliver a hit to the head.

Draisaitl, talking to reporters postgame, said he did nothing wrong.

“I don’t think there was anything dirty about it,” he said. “Maybe I got him a little high, but certainly not any intent to injure or anything like that.”

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Instead of being charged with an elbowing or charging penalty, Draisaitl was assessed a 2-minute minor for roughing.

Evan Rodrigues scored on that power play to give Florida a 3-1 lead.

Rodrigues has three more goals than the vaunted Edmonton trio of Draisaitl, Connor McDavid and Zach Hyman combined in this series.

Edmonton has one goal in its two losses to the Panthers.

“We rallied. We did what we had to do to win the game,’’ said Rodrigues, who scored twice on Monday. “You never want to see your captain go down, but I thought everyone did a great job, focused in, got the job done.”

The hit on Barkov had the smell of frustration all over it.

Barkov, now a two-time Selke winner, has been a big reason why Edmonton’s top players are scoreless drawing praise from Edmonton great Wayne Gretzky which got plenty of attention.

George Parros, the NHL Director of Player Safety, was in the building Monday watching from the press level and will make the decision whether to suspend Draisaitl, fine him a modest amount as per league rules, or let the 2-minute penalty be all there is.

If Barkov does miss time, the Panthers need to recover quickly.

Florida, now two wins away from the Stanley Cup, are a deep team but being without its captain for any stretch is not optimal.

Coach Paul Maurice has options.

Florida has, in the past, slid up centers one spot as was the case when Sam Bennett went out in Game 2 of the first-round against the Lightning.

In this case, it would not be surprising to see Maurice keep Anton Lundell (who had a fantastic game Monday) up in Barkov’s place on the top line with Rodrigues and Sam Reinhart.

Lundell and Reinhart have a pretty good history playing with each other so this makes real sense.

Florida would have to add a forward and, with Ryan Lomberg and Nick Cousins sitting out since the end of the Rangers series, one of them will get in.

Neither player would have a problem introducing themselves to Draisaitl if he were to play in Game 3.

Expect Kevin Stenlund to move up to the third line with Steven Lorentz centering a combo of Kyle Okposo, Lomberg or Cousins on the fourth.

The question on whether Barkov will play or not probably will not be answered — at least, not publicly — for a day or so.

Back in January, Barkov took an elbow in a game against Vegas and missed the final two periods.

In the following game against Colorado, he had to wear a full face shield.

It did not appear to bother him too much as he ended with four assists in an 8-4 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.

“I got the news that I have to wear it, and I wasn’t really happy about it,” Barkov said after the game. “But it’s OK. As long as I can be out there, it’s fun.”

The Panthers, certainly, would have more fun if their captain is able to join them Thursday night in Edmonton as they try to stick a dagger in the dreams of the Oilers.

“Obviously you don’t want to see anybody get hurt,’’ Okposo said. “But I thought we did a good job of sticking with it. And we found a way. It was a huge goal by Rodrigues there to break the dam on the PP there and I just thought we did a great job in the third period after that.”


17 Evan Rodrigues // 15 Anton Lundell // 13 Sam Reinhart

23 Carter Verhaeghe // 9 Sam Bennett // 19 Matthew Tkachuk

23 Eetu Luostarinen // 82 Kevin Stenlund // 10 Vladimir Tarasenko

94 Ryan Lomberg or 21 Nick Cousins // 18 Steven Lorentz //  8 Kyle Okposo

42 Gus Forsling // 5 Aaron Ekblad

77 Niko Mikkola //  62 Brandon Montour

91 Oliver Ekman-Larsson // 7 Dmitry Kulikov

72 Sergei Bobrovsky

41 Anthony Stolarz

For More FHN Coverage of the Florida Panthers:

Panthers Lead Best of 7 Series 2-0
  • When: Thursday, 8 p.m.
  • Where: Rogers Place; Edmonton, Alberta
  • National TV: ABC
  • Streaming: ESPN+/Hulu
  • Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Series Schedule, All Games 8 p.m. on ABC — Game 1: @Florida 3, Edmonton 0; Game 2: @Florida 4, Edmonton 1; Game 3: Florida at Edmonton, Thursday; Game 4:Florida at Edmonton, Saturday June 15; Game 5*: Edmonton at Florida, Tuesday June 18; Game 6*:Florida at Edmonton, Friday June 21; Game 7*: Edmonton at Florida, Monday June 24. (*) – If Necessary
  • How They Got Here — Florida: d. Tampa Bay 4-1, Boston 4-2, New York Rangers 4-2; Edmonton: d. Los Angeles 4-1, Vancouver 4-3, Dallas 4-2.
  • This Season (Florida Won 2-0) — At Florida: Panthers 5, Oilers 3 (Nov. 20). At Edmonton: Panthers 5, Oilers 2 (Dec. 17).
  • Last Season: Edmonton Won 2-0
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Oilers lead 23-16-0, 3 ties
  • Postseason History: First Meeting


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Paul Katz

The Old Testament says an eye for an eye. Or their Captain for our Captain.


NHL I believe made maybe a large not suspending Leon. Now it is open season on Leon and Connor. NHL if they get hurt don’t cry, you made the suspend him they move on. Simple. Hockey players will police themselves.

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