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2023 Stanley Cup Final

Matthew Tkachuk One of Many Florida Panthers Injured in Playoffs



Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad celebrates with his teammates after scoring during the second period in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday night. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

Matthew Tkachuk was the big story after not being able to play in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on Tuesday night, but a number of Florida Panthers paid a high toll in order for their team to make their unlikely playoff run.

Following Tuesday night’s 9-3 loss in Game 5 — which is the final loss of the season for the Panthers — coach Paul Maurice said numerous players were playing with broken bones and some will not be recovered in time for training camp nor the start of the 2023-24 season.

“We are going to have a hell of a time making it back to the playoffs next year,” Maurice said.

“We’re going to have some players in that locker room that are going to be on our roster, but they will not be in our opening day lineup and we’re probably talking two or three months.

“I’ve got some guys who are going to take 4-6 months to heal. They are going to have surgery, so we are going to look different at the start.”

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Tkachuk suffered a broken sternum in the opening period of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final before coming back in and scoring the game-tying goal.

He played limited minutes in Game 4 but could not play in Game 5 due to the injury.

”The mental part of that killed him,” Maurice told TNT’s Jackie Redmond.

“One of the things about him is that he is an incredibly bright young man so he could assess his own game. The hope was that if we could get him five days of rest, there was a chance for Game 7.

“He scored the game-tying goal after fracturing the bone, net-front, then you could see him in Game 4 trying to find a way to play with a broken bone. He had three of the best chances to score but clearly, he also knew the other four guys on the ice needed a guy who could do other things so he accepted it and he understood it.”

Maurice said that Tkachuk needed help tying his skates and putting on his jersey and gear before even skating in Game 4.

Yet he played 16:40 and took four shots on goal with his fractured sternum.

Tkachuk should be good to go for training camp, but others may not be so lucky.

As has been the case throughout the season, Aaron Ekblad probably took the worst of it.

According to Maurice, he broke his foot in Florida’s first-round series against the Boston Bruins then subsequently sustained two separate shoulder dislocations as well as a torn oblique.

After all of that, he only missed one game.

Ekblad also had shoulder problems throughout the season as well as the groin injury which cost him 11 games early on. Ekblad also broke a foot during the season.

He told reporters that he will need offseason shoulder surgery and could likely miss the start of training camp in September.

Radko Gudas suffered a high-ankle sprain during the Stanley Cup Final, which is a “six-week rehab,” per Maurice.

He missed one period.

Eetu Luostarinen missed the entirety of the Stanley Cup Final with a lower-leg injury after blocking a shot in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final.

That leg injury happened to be a broken tibia, which Luostarinen attempted to skate on during practice and return from, but to no avail.

Sam Bennett was playing with an oblique injury for the majority of the postseason on top of the groin injury he missed the end of the regular season with, per Maurice.

“It was the most egregious for him during the Toronto series,” he said.

“He went six of the seven games [in Round 1], had a day off and you get into the Toronto series and you get to Game 3 and 4 and he was struggling to play those games. He was in an awful lot of pain but he still got it done. He still played.”

Brandon Montour also suffered a torn labrum during the playoffs, per Kevin Weekes.

That injury will require surgery which will keep Montour out of the weight room for approximately three months. His rehab will likely start just in time for Florida’s September training camp.

“It’s not an excuse because we don’t need one,” Maurice said. “Everybody has injuries. I’ve never seen guys play with what these guys played with, the sheer number of them.”


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