SUNRISE — Florida interim coach Andrew Brunette announced that Panthers forward Mason Marchment is unavailable for Game 1 of the Round 2 series against the Lightning tonight at 7.
Marchment was absent with a lower-body injury for the last two games of the opening round against the Capitals. Brunette said Marchment will probably move to a day-to-day designation throughout the rest of the series.
Marchment logged 47 points (29 assists) through 54 games this season and has one goal, 21 hits and nine shots on goal through his first four games of the playoffs.
Additionally, Lightning coach Jon Cooper said Monday that All-Star center Brayden Point is “highly doubtful” for the series opener. Point missed the final two periods of Game 7 against Toronto after falling awkwardly into the boards.
Even though Point’s status is a question mark, Brunette and his group understand the challenge going up against the back-to-back Cup champs.
The two Florida-based teams have played each other 18 times since the beginning of the 2020-21 regular season, including the playoffs, splitting with 9-9 records.
“I think as the series went on (last year against the Lightning), we kind of settled in a little bit better,” Brunette said. “...Tonight, our focus ... is our start. We just have to make sure that we start the right way and we don’t need to be chasing games and do our thing.”
Part of getting off to a good start for Florida will be how they get their looks on Andrei Vasilevskiy and put traffic in front of him. The reigning Conn Smythe (playoff MVP) goalie made 192 saves on 214 shots, registering an .897 save percentage (fourth-best this postseason) in the seven-game, first-round series against Toronto.
“We know he’s a great goalie, obviously one of the best in the NHL,” said Florida forward Jonathan Huberdeau (who has one goal and two assists through six postseason games). “But I think last year we had some success against him and I think when he sees the puck is when he’s at his best, and obviously when you have kind of an open net, you think it’s going to be easy, but he’s always going to be there ... traffic has to be there.”
Florida won its first postseason series since 1996 in its six-game tilt against the Capitals. The team feels a greater sense of confidence having learned from recent playoff experience (both last year and this year) and has a better understanding of how emotions can impact a series.
“I think it’s part of the trials and tribulations of playing playoff hockey,” Brunette said. “...We’re still growing as a group, we’re still building. Emotions at times, especially against (the Lightning) last year, got a little too wound up. I think we learned through that last series (against Washington) that we have to control our emotions.
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“It’s going to be a roller-coaster ride, and we can talk about it until we’re blue in the face, but until you go through it, until you realize and understand it, I think we’re building toward that. So that’d be maybe a little bit of difference. That first series, really, I think helped us grow a little better.”
Aleksander Barkov named Selke Trophy finalist
Panthers forward and captain Aleksander Barkov is one of three Selke Trophy finalists along with Boston’s Patrice Bergeron and Calgary’s Elias Lindholm. The Selke honors “the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.”
Barkov won the award for the first time last season and could become the seventh player in league history (second active) to win in consecutive seasons.
He led all forwards in average ice time per game at 20:18 and topped the roster in face-off wins (713 of 1,252) for a career-best win percentage of 57.
Round 2 schedule
Game 1 – Lightning at Panthers, 7 tonight *Watch party at Amalie Arena’s Thunder Alley
Game 2 - Lightning at Panthers, 7 p.m. Thursday
Game 3 – Panthers at Lightning, 1:30 p.m. Sunday
Game 4 – Panthers at Lightning, 7 p.m. Monday
Game 5 – Lightning at Panthers, TBD Wednesday, May 25 *if necessary
Game 6 – Panthers at Lightning, TBD Friday, May 27 *if necessary
Game 7 – Lightning at Panthers, TBD Sunday, May 29 *if necessary
Bally Sports Sun is offering an hour-long live postgame show throughout the second-round series. The show will feature highlights and interviews with the players and Cooper in addition to insight from Lightning play-by-play broadcaster Dave Randorf, analyst Brian Engblom and host Paul Kennedy. Can watch online at BallySports.com, on TV or in the Bally Sports app.
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