Panthers Undisciplined & Ineffective in Game 1 Loss to Vegas

The Florida Panthers are back in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1996. But they now have a hill to climb, this hill being a situation they haven’t been in since their first round series against the Boston Bruins. After losing 5-2 Saturday night, they’re down in the series 1-0 against the Vegas Golden Knights.

Adin Hill Vegas Golden Knights
Adin Hill of the Vegas Golden Knights tends net against the Florida Panthers during the second period in Game 1 of the 2023 NHL Stanley Cup Final (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Florida finds themselves down in the series because of their undisciplined play, inability to execute on the man advantage, and failure to win faceoffs in big moments.

Stay Out of The Box!

Officiating in this game may not have been up to par in the eyes of some, just ask head coach Paul Maurice. But the fact of the matter is that the Cats failed to stay out of the box and it ended up costing them dearly.

“I think (the refs) were just excited about getting us into the (penalty) box one more time.”

Panthers head coach Paul Maurice in regards to an unsuccessful goal challenge for a high-stick in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final

The Golden Knights converted on only two of their power play opportunities. But they had a grand total of seven chances, including a four-minute power play at the end of the game and a very short five-on-three advantage. The penalty kill did have some huge moments that would turn the tide for the Panthers, including a short-handed goal by Eric Staal, but they ultimately came up short.

Powerless Play

The Panthers’ power play came into the Stanley Cup Final as the sixth-best man advantage in the playoffs at a 27.9 percent success rate. But on Saturday, a viewer would’ve never known that by the way it looked.

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They got three power plays and squandered them all, and only had three shots on goal. That is not a good look when a team needs to get a jump start to get back in the game. To get back in this series, they need to capitalize on their opportunities on the power play.

Winning Draws Make or Break Games

Although they were missing a center in Eetu Luostarinen, and it improved somewhat in the third period, their inability to win a faceoff throughout most of the game did them in. Their overall faceoff win percentage was 47 percent, but in the first period, it was an abysmal 28 percent. When they were on the kill, they had a 45 percent win rate with only a 30 percent success rate in the defensive zone.

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Only two players had a win rate higher than 50 percent, those being captain Aleksander Barkov and Eric Staal. They need to start winning draws in key situations if they want to steal a game on the road.

Despite All This, There’s No Need to Panic

The flaws that were shown are definitely concerning. But as of now, there is no need to hit the panic button quite yet. Maurice feels the same way.

“We lost the first game in the Boston series as well, got a little better. Then we lost two more, got a little better.
Everybody just ******* breathe.”

Maurice on the tone of the series after losing Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final

As previously mentioned, the Panthers lost Game 1 in the first round back in April, which was on the road in Boston. Additionally, they haven’t lost a game on the road since then. Although it came at a bad time, they were due for a loss.

However, history could be on their side. When Vegas went to the Cup Final back in 2018, they also won Game 1 at home but went on to lose the series 4-1 to the Washington Capitals. But in order for anything to go their way, they have to dig deep, fix their current issues at hand, and win Game 2. If they fail to do so, then it may be time to panic as the series shifts to Sunrise, Florida.

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