It looks like the Vegas Golden Knights have a stranglehold on this Stanley Cup Final, but the tides could turn down in Florida.
The Florida Panthers were as hot as any team in recent memory entering the Stanley Cup Final but the Golden Knights have just made them look silly.
There were a few takeaways from Game 1 that indicated that the game was actually closer than the 5-2 final score indicated. Nonetheless, Florida lost by three goals.
It got even uglier in Game 2 as the Golden Knights put up a touchdown and an extra point on the Panthers with a 7-2 win.
The Panthers were never in the game. The Golden Knights scored a powerplay goal seven minutes into the game and just kept the foot on the gas from there.
Florida outshot Vegas 31-28, they outhit Vegas 44-24, and had just six giveaways to Vegas’ 12 so the effort was there but the execution was not.
The Panthers had some brutal defensive breakdowns that just cannot happen which led to Golden Knights goals.
Entering this Final, it looked like this one had the makings of a full two-week, six or seven-game series.
If the Golden Knights can continue to dominate in this fashion, while the Panthers struggle to execute, this series may not last beyond Saturday.
|Florida Panthers vs. Vegas Golden Knights - Stanley Cup Final Game 3
|FLA Live Arena, Sunrise, Florida
|8 PM ET, Thursday June 8th
|How to watch
|FLA Panthers -120 VGS Golden Knights +100
If Vegas wins Game 3, they likely stuck with what works.
The Golden Knights have been fantastic this postseason in plenty of aspects, but overall they have not deviated from what works.
Since the first drop of the puck in these playoffs, Vegas has successfully smothered teams five on five, played discipline, and executed when the opportunity arises.
Through two games in this Stanley Cup Final, they have continued to execute those team strengths leading to multi-goal wins.
The consistency of the Golden Knights’ play has been very impressive.
The Golden Knights have not tried to get flashy or morph to their opponent’s style of game out of desperation or domination.
It just has not happened. Of course, not deviating from a successful game-plan is easier said than done.
A bad bounce or an opponent that just happens to be on fire that given night can change things quickly. That is why adjustments are usually needed period over period and sometimes shift over shift.
The Golden Knights know what makes them successful. Early on in this series, they have stuck to those factors and executed extremely well.
If Florida are to win Game 3, they need to get back to basics.
The Panthers do not have to do anything flashy to win. They have had a couple of flashy moments this postseason but for the most part, they have played a blue-collar physical style that is structurally sound and has led to low-scoring wins.
In their stretch of 11 wins in 12 games, they minimised the high percentage chances of their opposition and overall did not make many mistakes.
That needs to continue to be their recipe. Getting back to those basics is another thing that is much easier said than done, especially when Vegas is seemingly doing everything right.
But the Panthers found themselves in an even worse situation against Boston down 3-1 in the opening round.
They obviously righted the ship in that series against arguably a better team and won.
If they are going to claw back into this series as well, it will be because they successfully reverted to their fundamentally strong style that got them here.
The Panthers are the favourites in Game 3, available at -120 in the money line.
Florida is +210 on the -1.5 puck line while Vegas is -250 to cover +1.5 goals.
The over under is currently 6.0, up from 5.5 in Game 2, with the under showing slightly more likely at -115 odds while the under is at -105.
The Panthers are here for a reason, though, and they are back in their home barn.
Everyone outside of Vegas wouldn’t mind this becoming a close series and the Panthers would certainly love to oblige.