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Florida Panthers Can't Let Long Week Break Ruin Series – Hockey Writers – Florida Panthers

The Florida Panthers entered the second round against a familiar foe after defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning by a 4-1 series. That opponent is the Boston Bruins, a team they lost in seven games after last season's 3-1 series loss.

Unfortunately, the Bruins missed this playoff series and defeated Florida in Game 1 by a score of 5-1. With the Panthers not playing for a week, and the B's playing just 48 hours before that game, the pressure was on Boston and it caught the Panthers by surprise. If Florida wants to win this series, they have to shake off the rust as quickly as possible.

The Panthers Wrapped Their Series Early, and the Bruins Jumped Into It

The Cats took care of business as soon as they met the Tampa Bay Lightning. As mentioned earlier, they cut it to five games, with Game 5 on April 29. While that long wait was enough to give the injured players the rest they needed, it eventually made their skills rusty.

The Tampa Bay Lightning congratulate the Florida Panthers on their 6-1 win in Game Five of the First Round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

They started Game 1 well, but ended up falling to the Bruins, who were riding high from their Game 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.

Lack of Momentum Ends Panthers' 2023 Playoff Run

Florida was in a similar situation less than a year ago and ended its season. The Panthers, to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals, made quick work of the Carolina Hurricanes to win their first Eastern Conference title since 1996 by sweeping them. Their opponent, however, took a while.

Related: Panthers Should Be Favorites in Playoff Rematch vs. Bruins

The Vegas Golden Knights dispatched the Dallas Stars 4-2, giving them their second straight Western Conference Championship. They played Game 1 against the Cats five days later. That game was Florida's first in 10 days after winning its series. The Panthers lost the Stanley Cup Final by a score of 4-1.

Week Out Injuries Still Not Healed

In Game 2 against the Bolts, forward Sam Bennett left the game early after shooting in the wrist. He ended up sitting out the first round and is not expected to return until game 3 or 4 of the series. In addition, forward Ryan Lomberg missed Game 2 with an illness and has not played since. It is not known when he will return.

Related: Barkov, Matthews, and Staal Named Selke Trophy Finalists

The team is still not 100% even though there was a break. There is nothing wrong with getting the series done early so you can relax. But it doesn't look like it did them the good it should have done, as evidenced by the continued absence of Bennett and Lomberg.

Despite the Loss, There's Still Time to Right the Ship

Other than getting beat in Game 1, it's only Game 1 that they've dropped. It's a seven game series and the Cats have been in a situation like this before and managed to win the series. They are called “Heart Cats” for a reason too.

If they want to get back to this, it starts with winning at home. Although they have won games in Boston before in the playoffs, it is not an easy task, especially considering this team is still undefeated this season and has a record of 1-1 away from home. They have to get the series back because if they don't, it could be the toughest season the team will ever face.

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