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NHL Odds Analysis: 3 Reasons Why Panthers Can Win the Stanley Cup

Overwhelming Playoff-Proven Lightning Big First Step for Florida

The playoff history against the rival Tampa Bay Lightning was not encouraging for the Florida Panthers going into the first-round series, considering that the Lightning lost just two games in eliminating the Panthers from the 2021 and 2022 playoffs. It was a different story this time. The NHL odds had the Panthers at +425 to win the series in five games.

Florida now waits to see if the Boston Bruins punch their ticket into the second round on Tuesday or if the Toronto Maple Leafs can extend the series with a win in Game 5. Florida will open the next series with the first two games at home.

NHL Analysis: 3 Reasons Why Panthers Can Win the Stanley Cup
Vincent Trocheck #21 of the Florida Panthers | Bruce Bennett/Getty Images/AFP

The Panthers had won one playoff series in the previous 24 seasons before an improbable run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2023. Florida showed its toughness by closing out two series on the road as it played for the NHL title for the first time since 1996.

When looking at the NHL news, any hope that the Lightning had to put pressure on favored Florida after a 6-3 win in Game 4 ended when a short-handed goal by Aleksander Barkov put Florida up by two goals in the second period. Four third-period goals sent the Panthers on the way to a 6-1 win on Monday night.

According to the NHL playoff odds, the Panthers (+450) have the second-best odds to win the Stanley Cup.


Been There, Done That

A year ago at this time, there were probably a few questions about the Panthers heading into the playoffs after the Panthers edged out the Buffalo Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins for the eighth and final playoff spot.

However, the Panthers took out the Presidents; Trophy-winning Boston Bruins in the first round, needed just five games to send the Toronto Maple Leafs packing, and swept the Carolina Hurricanes. Although the title dreams ended against the Vegas Golden Knights, it left the Panthers longing for more.

After opening on the road in each of the four series in the 2023 playoffs, Florida will have home-ice advantage for the second straight series.

Florida doesn’t have veteran winger Anthony Duclair or Eric Staal any longer and physical defenseman Radko Gudas is also gone, but most of the team returns as the Panthers look to finish what they started a season ago.

The Panthers have ample scoring punch with 57-goal scorer Sam Reinhart, one of six players to reach 20 goals for Florida in the regular season. They have experience on defense and a proven goalie in Sergei Bobrovsky. The roster has plenty of players willing to mix things up if the series takes a nasty turn.


Everybody Shoots, Everybody Scores

Eleven different Florida players scored goals in the five games against Tampa Bay and 18 different players had at least one point, so there are no concerns about scoring depth with this team. Sam Bennett, one of the more productive players in last year’s playoff run, could be nearing a return after missing three games in the first-round series.

Carter Verhaeghe, who tends to play his best hockey at this time of the year, led the Panthers with five goals against the Lightning and was tied for the team lead with Matthew Tkachuk with nine points. Those rolling with Verhaeghe to be the top point producer in the series with the Lightning were rewarded with +2500 odds. Verhaeghe was also +7 in the series.

Reinhart’s three goals gave him 60 this season as he was a key part of the Panthers scoring 16 even-strength goals against the Lightning.

Reinhart, Tkachuk and Verhaeghe each had more than 20 shots on goal in the opening series so the offense is coming from a variety of places.


No Problem With a Little Overtime

Just a friendly piece of advice: If you want to beat the Panthers, take care of things in regulation.

Florida has won its last 10 overtime playoff games, with Verhaeghe scoring the game-winning goal five times.

Florida is 12-2 in its last 14 one-goal games in the playoffs and eight of those wins were in overtime, so the Panthers don’t panic if they happen to get off to a slow start,

There are already 15 Panthers with at least two points so the offense can come from a variety of places.



Questions of the Day

How Many Florida Panthers Players Have Won the Stanley Cup?

While Florida has never won the Stanley Cup, forwards Carter Verhaeghe and Vladimir Tarasenko won Stanley Cups with Tampa Bay and St. Louis.

Who led the Panthers in scoring in the first-round series?

Carter Verhaeghe (five goals, four assists) and Matthew Tkachuk (three goals, six assists) each had nine points in the five games against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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