Stanley Cup Finals Odds & Preview -- Panthers' coach sticks with Bob in must-win situation

  • In Charles Jay
  • Thu, Jun 8th, 2023 1:07:33 pm
  • By Charles Jay - Exclusive to OSGA

The pressure is on the Florida Panthers to avoid going down three games to none against the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup finals.

The Florida Panthers have dropped the first two games to the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL Stanley Cup finals, and they haven't finished particularly strong in either game.

As a result, Vegas is listed as the -500 favorite to win the Cup at BetOnline (Florida is +395).

One would have to figure the Panthers are feeling the urgency right now. And after pulling Sergei Bobrovsky in the second period of Game 2, it might be expected that they'd be contemplating a change in goal. After all, Alex Lyon had led the team on its drive to secure the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

But head coach Paul Maurice is going to stick with Bobrovsky, hoping that he will recapture the form that has reminded some people that he has indeed won two Vezina Trophies, and has performed some miracles thus far in the playoffs.

It is true that Bobrovsky has made a lot of saves to bail the Panthers out of jams, and they have caused those themselves because they have not been real tough about giving the opposition good looks and opportunities to get in front of "Bob" and block his vision.

In the Stanley Cup finals odds that have been posted on this game, the Panthers are favored at their arena in Sunrise, which is right outside of Fort Lauderdale:

Florida Panthers -120
Vegas Golden Knights +109

Over 6 Goals -102
Under 6 Goals -108

Here is the puck line....

Golden Knights +1.5 Goals -250
Panthers -1.5 Goals +210

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One player who has been, well, disappointing is Matthew Tkachuk, who, after a tremendous series against the Carolina Hurricanes, where he scored three game-winning goals in four games, has managed just six shots on goal and has more misconduct penalties (3) than goals (1). And that goal happened late in the third period on Monday, when the score was already 6-1.

If he can respond at home with the kind of efforts he has been giving this team all season (40 goals, 69 assists), that could make a huge difference.

The Panthers can not get themselves in trouble with penalties; they are not the kind of team that has killed penalties well (just 71%), and they have turned Vegas, which had a 18.2% power play in the first three series they played, into something special, with four successes in eight chances.

The events of the first two games have also altered the odds on the Conn Smythe Trophy winner, as posted at BetOnline.

Here they were before....

Sergei Bobrovsky +300
Jack Eichel +325
Jonathan Marchessault +450
Matthew Tkachuk +450
Adin Hill +800
Mark Stone +800
William Karlsson +900

And here they are after...

Jonathan Marchessault +100
Jack Eichel +400
Adin Hill +475
Matthew Tkachuk +900
Mark Stone +1200
Sergei Bobrovsky +1200
William Karlsson +1200

Marchessault, we are told, is the first NHL player since Sidney Crosby in 2009 to have 12 goals or more AND seven assists or more over a twelve-game stretch in the playoffs. Yes, it's esoteric, but it is helping his case. Personally, this reporter would throw some support behind Hill, who hasn't cracked yet.

At the moment the Golden Knights look a lot more powerful, and a little too much for the Panthers to handle. But it doesn't necessarily have to stay that way. Maurice has expressed what he calls a lot of faith in the goaltender that has brought his team to this point. And let's face it - Bobrovsky has probably had more of an effect on an individual basis than Hill has, because he has a much weaker defense playing in front of him. He has usually had to face more shots, although surprisingly, Florida is the team that has more shots on goal in the first two games of this series.

Yeah, we admit we're running out of patience, but we will give one last look to the Panthers to get this one closer in Game 3. We also understand that if Bobrovsky can go to the well and produce another big effort, the end result could be an under. So we can use that in our parlay.

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