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2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Florida Panthers Will Show What They’re Made Of In Game 5

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Eric Staal will play in his 88th career playoff game tonight against the Boston Bruins. // Photo by Roger Lee Photographer (561) 866-2000

SUNRISE — There was a lot of talk of ‘do-or-die’ and ‘no tomorrow’ around the Florida Panthers going into their elimination playoff Game 5 against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night.

A loss to the Bruins on Wednesday night and ‘tomorrow’ for the Panthers means a return to South Florida with exit meetings and locker clean-outs soon to follow.

“It’s a do-or-die situation but the guys are prepared, they’ll be ready to go,’’ Brandon Montour said Tuesday. “I have o doubt that everyone in this room is going to show up and bring their best effort. The belief is there, we just need to bring the execution and we’ll be alright.”

With their season on the line, talk is cheap.

The Panthers can talk all day long about how they plan on leaving everything on the ice, their actions will definitely speak louder than their soundbites.

They are either going to bring it all, or not.

And it will be on display for all to see.

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“Elimination games are huge because there is no tomorrow and you see the determination from everyone on the team,” said Eric Staal, a 18-year NHL veteran with 87 playoff games and a Stanley Cup championship on his resume.

“We hope, to a man, that we show that determination and that fight. All we have is to stay alive. We’ll prepare as best we can to make sure we have everyone on board and we’re all ready to go. When you get to this point, you have confidence in your ability and your group and in your guys. …

“You lay everything on the line because there is nothing left. You believe and trust in what we have here because if we execute and deliver, we will have the right to continue on.”

The Panthers are in this situation because they have not been able to create enough nor slowed down Boston’s high-powered offense.

Florida has two goals apiece from Sam Bennett, Matthew Tkachuk and Montour with Carter Verhaeghe, Sam Reinhart, Eetu Luostarinen, Gus Forsling and Staal each scoring once.

To keep this season going, the Panthers are going to need a lot more from some of their counted-on player with captain Sasha Barkov heading the list.

Barkov comes into Game 5 with two assists in the first four games; before getting off seven shots in Game 4, he had four in the opening three.

“When you lose a game, you critique your best players,” coach Paul Maurice said after Game 3.  “We’ve got to play as a team. I’ve got to get the best out of each single guy that’s in the lineup. He can be better.”

The Panthers have an opportunity to keep their season going with a win on Wednesday night and everyone knows that is a tall ask.

The Bruins are expected to get top center Patrice Bergeron back in the lineup for the first time this series but Florida won the last game there a week ago, so they know Boston is beatable.

Truth is, even Florida’s best may not be enough to extend this series — and this season. Boston is legit good and can taste advancing.

“We have to be prepared to be ready but we have been preparing our whole lives for this kind of game,” Staal said. “It is about executing the kind of game we want to play in their building and then worry about the next day when it comes. Our focus is getting off to a good start, be aggressive, be assertive and have some fun in trying to get a win.”

FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS, ROUND 1
BOSTON BRUINS (ATL1) VS. FLORIDA PANTHERS (WC2)
GAME 5 (Boston Leads 3-1)

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