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NHL Today: Game Seven

June 24, 2024 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
Sergei Bobrovsky is vital to the Florida Panthers winning the Stanley Cup.
Sergei Bobrovsky has had a tough time the last few games. (Sergei Belski-USA Today Sports)

Florida goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has struggled in the last few games, but the Panthers say it’s not his fault that the team has blown a 3-0 series lead; a nullified Alekesander Barkov goal turned the tides in Game Six; and Edmonton forced a seventh game, despite no offensive contribution from Connor McDavid in Game Six.

Conn Smythe Watch

If the Edmonton Oilers can complete their historic comeback and win the Stanley Cup on Monday, there are several worthy choices to bag the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP: obviously McDavid — despite being shut out in Game Six; Evan Bouchard; or perhaps Zach Hyman.

But what if the Florida Panthers can stop the bleeding and take home their first Lord Stanley’s Cup? Well, Bobrovsky and Matthew Tkachuk both played key roles in getting the Cats this far, but each has endured his share of struggles in the Finals.

Meanwhile, Barkov got Florida’s only goal on Friday (with another one overturned, as discussed above), giving him two goals and three assists for the series heading into game Seven. Not great, but consider that Tkachuk and Carter Verhaeghe — two of the Panthers most important gunners — have combined for the same numbers in the Finals.

All told, Barkov is averaging nearly a point per game in the playoffs (8-14-22 over 23 games) coming off a regular season in which he reached 80 points for the third time in his career while playing his usual Selke Trophy level of defense.

Assuming Florida can finally bag that elusive win number four, the man who a couple of years ago had a hat trick just over three-quarters into the first period of a game looks like the fave to take home some hardware and it sounds like he’s been prepping for this moment all his life.

Who Will Win Game Seven?

Despite being on the precipice of a complete collapse, the Panthers are still considered the favourites, projected to beat the Oilers in Game Seven by 1.5 goals as per FanDuel.

It really feels like this game will be dictated by the performance of Bobrovsky. He was superb as the Panthers built a 3-0 lead and, in losing the last three, his outings have ranged from meh to yuck leading to speculation that he may be dealing with an injury (see video below).

And while Bobrovsky’s overall playoff GAA is almost exactly what he managed in the regular season, his save percentage has taken a beating, dropping from .915 to .903 in the postseason.

Still, a huge showing in this game would cap a tremendous comeback story for the Russian netminder. Last season was one of his worst ever, with a GAA over 3.00 for the third time as he barely topped a .900 save percentage and had to deal with an injury. Bobrovsky completely turned that around this season, enjoying his finest campaign since coming to the Panthers in 2019-20.

Adding a Stanley Cup to the mix would really complete this turnaround.

RotoRob Tune of the Day

Czech-American musician Jan Hammer has been at it since 1968. He formed the Jan Hammer Group in 1976, and they did two R&B pop albums, the second of which was released in 1977 — Melodies. Here’s “Just for Fun.”

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