Playoff record: 6-3 (+ 3.30 units)
The Florida Panthers are back home after a rough showing in games 1 and 2 in Vegas. In games 3 and 4 at home, they are looking to even the Stanley Cup Finals at 2-2 when they host the Las Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night. The Panthers have done most of their winning this playoff on the road, but are looking forward to some home cooking. If they can get the crowd into the game early, clean up the defense, impose their will with their physical style of play, and get the offense going, I see them winning game 3 and getting back into this series. Here is why I think the Panthers will win Game 3 :
1. Home-ice advantage: The Panthers have been dominant at home this season, and they have won four of their last five home games. In the regular season, they went 23-13-5.
2. Depth scoring: The Panthers have a number of players who can score goals, and they have been able to spread the scoring around in the playoffs. In the Stanley Cup playoffs this season, the Panthers have 15 different players who have scored a goal. Matthew Tkachuk has been the go-to guy with 10 goals in 18 games. It is important for Tkachuk to remain composed has he has 36 penalty minutes in the series. He will need to remain on the ice and contribute to the offense that has been lacking thus far in the series.
3. Strong goaltending: Sergei Bobrovsky has been outstanding in net for the Panthers in the playoffs, and he has been a key reason why they have been so successful. Game 2 was a struggle, but I look for him to bounce back. He has a GAA of 2.5 and a save percentage of 92.5% this postseason. For his career in the postseason he is at 2.97 GAA and a 90.8% save percentage.
The Golden Knights are a good team, but the Panthers have the tools to win Game 3 and even the series. The Panthers have home-ice advantage, depth scoring, strong goaltending, experience, and momentum. All of these factors will be in their favor on Thursday night. Panthers have a raucous home crowd that will be behind them every step of the way. I think the Panthers will feed off of that energy and use it to their advantage. Overall, I believe that the Panthers have all of the tools they need to win Game 3 and even the series. I am excited to see how they respond.
The Pick: Florida Panthers ML (-120) 1.2 units to win 1 unit