The Panthers are looking to improve their power play ahead of Game 3 against Lightning.


The most important change was moving forward. Patrick Hornkvist From the second unit to the front of the net of the first unit.

The Panthers are desperate as they beat Tampa Bay Lightning 2-0 in Round 2 of the Eastern Conference and head to Game 3 of the Best of 7 series at the Amalie Arena on Sunday (1:30 ET; TNT, SN, TVAS). Something that starts their power play and lacks time to find it.

“Obviously we’re into punk,” said Panthers manager Andrew Brunette. “I had to try something a little different here, so I was looking for a few different combinations.”

[RELATED: Complete Panthers vs Lightning series coverage]

A two-time Stanley Cup winner with Pittsburgh Penguins (2016, 2017), Hornqvist made a living on goal in 14 NHL seasons, scoring 10 powerplay goals in 104 playoff matches. His tenacious goal could possibly spark a power play that didn’t score in eight playoff games, including a 0–18 record against the Washington Capitals in the first round.

According to NHL Stats, the number of games that have failed to score a power play goal since the beginning of the postseason is the second-largest game in the 2010-11 season behind the Boston Bruins (since power play stat tracking began). – Shouted 30 times in the first 10 playoffs before winning the Stanley Cup.

Florida beat Washington in six games to become the ninth team to win the NHL best-of-seven series without scoring a power play goal. But coming back without scoring a power play goal against Tampa Bay, which has won the Stanley Cup over the past two seasons, would be an overkill.

“If power play doesn’t get on track, I think the series will come to an end,” said ESPN analyst and former NHL goalkeeper Kevin Weeks. “Of course I expected it to be seven games, but you can’t beat a repeat champion with a power play that doesn’t score.”

To answer the Panthers’ power play question, NHL.com turned to Weekes, Dave Barr (former NHL forward and assistant), Eddie Olczyk (TNT analyst, former NHL forward and coach) and Bryce Salvador (TNT/MSG network analyst). I asked for an offer. , former NHL defender).

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The Panthers finished fifth in the NHL with 24.4% power plays during the regular season. Sam ReinhartThe Panthers’ main net front player in power play, he tied for third in the NHL with 16 power play goals. Jonathan Huberdo tied for second in the NHL with 33 power play assists and tied for third with 38 power play points (5 goals). Alexander Barkov Scored 12 power play goals. Anthony Duclair scored nine.

But that success didn’t make it to the playoffs.

One of the reasons is that you can’t catch the puck from the net. Florida took 34 shots in 25 playoff power plays.

Barr, who coached power plays and penalty kills in the NHL, said the coaches at the Panthers seem to be emphasizing going back to basics.

“They have to simplify things by putting the puck into the net first, just like any other power play,” said Barr, a regular contributor to NHL.com’s Coaches Room column. “And the presence in front of the net. The players go to the net on that shot. When they go to the net, 2:1, 3:2 has an advantage. The puck bounces to the right. The way the player goes to the net, boom, you also We got another scoring opportunity.”

The Panthers have already tried a few different looks with their defenders. Aaron Eckblad Five forwards and Barkov are running from point to point. In Saturday practice, Ekblad was at the first unit’s spot, Reinhart was at the center bumper spot and Barkov (left) and Huberdeau (right) flanked with Hornqvist.

with duclair Claude Giroud moved to the second unit with carter berghege, Sam Bennett and defender Brandon Montour.

Regardless of the number and placement, Weekes said the Panthers were “so happy” and, like Barr, thinks they need a more shot-first mindset.

“There’s too much artistry, too many searches for the perfect play,” Weeks said.

Sometimes the Panthers either didn’t cross the Lightning penalty killer blocking the middle, or attempted a forced pass through an unconnected slot from the opposite side. Olchik, who has scored 100 goals in 16 NHL seasons, has suggested that Florida may temporarily need to change their approach to running power play on points and flanks to give the Tampa Bay penalty killer a different thought.

“I’ve struggled and have done a lot of power play on simplification, but I’m probably doing things that aren’t as comfortable as usual and sometimes get people’s attention for penalty kills,” Oljik said. “So maybe it’s a personnel change or he’s saying he’s going to leave the goal line in power play and go until he can resume what he did in the regular season.”

But Salvador thinks the Panthers’ biggest hurdle could be mental. Not scoring a power play goal in eight regular season games would be problematic, but neither player nor coach would be obsessed with it. In the playoffs, everything expands.

Said Salvador, a faithful penalty killer who played for the St. Louis Blues and New Jersey Devils over 13 NHL seasons. “You have people overthinking it right now… Special teams are all about instinctual reading, theater and chemistry, and as soon as there are two people fighting mentally, they take a moment to step away from reading. And how do they handle the play and I have some time to see if I can.”

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Florida had a handful of quality scoring opportunities in power plays in their first two games against Tampa Bay. Montour performed well in the left circle as the Panthers lost 4-1 in the first leg, leading the left circle, but a Lightning defender. Eric Chernak blocked his shot. After a 2-1 loss in the second leg and a belated tie in the second half of the second period, Huberdo put Duclair as a one-timer from the right circle, but Duclair could not raise the puck or the keeper high. Andrei Wasilewsky I kicked the left pad just in time.

“Take the ball to Tampa. They blocked a lot of shots,” Olczyk said. “They blocked a few passes. Vasilevskiy made a couple of saves when needed. You got a block of shots from Cernak in the first leg. They (though they got the chance) never did. We saw during the regular season. .

“As I always say, those people have to be able to ad-lib. They know what you want to do… …they have the skill level to do it.”

Barr believes that technology will eventually break through, perhaps as soon as the mental blocks in Game 3 and Panthers are unlocked.

“During the regular season they found a way to get it done and they’ll get one in the first of the second on Sunday and then there’s going to be a bit of a sigh of relief. Believe in yourself again,” said Barr. “They know they can.”

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