It is officially desperation time in South Florida. The Florida Panthers are a team that had so much hype heading into the playoffs. A complete turnaround from last season has propelled them to almost clinching the division this season. Their biggest challenge has come in these playoffs as the defending champions are bullying them around.
There have been many problems with how the Florida Panthers have played in this series. One of the biggest concerns at the moment is the goaltending situation. During the regular season, Chris Driedger and Sergei Bobrovsky performed extremely well for the Panthers. Their combined play is a huge reason why the Panthers succeeded this season. Now that the playoffs are here, that magic spark seems to have vanished as Tampa Bay has dominated the two goaltenders through four games.
Tampa Bay Putting on a Show
We all know how talented the Tampa Bay Lightning roster is. There is a reason as to why they are the defending Stanley Cup Champions. Their offense can change the trajectory of the game in a matter of seconds. The Florida Panthers seemed to be able to contain the talent of Tampa Bay during the regular season, but that seems to have changed.
Through four games in this series, Tampa Bay has managed to put home eighteen goals on the two Florida netminders. In those four games, three of the games saw Tampa Bay score at least five goals in the game. Whether it has been Chris Driedger or Sergei Bobrovsky, the Lightning have managed to dominate the offensive game. Once Tampa Bay gets going, it is really hard to stop the bleeding. Nikita Kucherov is back and producing at a rate he was producing at before his offseason surgery.
— Lightning Radio (@BoltsRadio) May 22, 2021
Chris Driedger is an amazing story for the Florida Panthers this season. His incredible play has helped the Panthers turn their season around from last season. Goaltending has always been an issue for Florida since their franchise began. During the regular season, Driedger posted a 14-6-3 record with a 2.07 GAA and a 0.927 Save Percentage. It hasn’t been as smooth of a transition as the playoffs have started for Driedger and the Panthers.
So far in the four games against Tampa Bay, Driedger has appeared in three of the games. Two of the games he started and one was in relief for Bobrovsky in game four. Driedger was also yanked in game three after allowing five goals in the second period. Luckily the Panthers came back to win that game. In his three appearances, Driedger has out up a 3.70 GAA and 0.871 Save Percentage. That is not ideal for your goaltender in the playoffs. As a result, Florida is on its heels down 3-1 in the series.
This is turning into a playground beatdown.
Florida has been way too soft in front of Driedger tonight, who really hasn’t done much to help himself either.
— David Dwork (@DavidDwork) May 21, 2021
Bob hasn’t had the greatest success in the playoffs in his career. He has posted a 13-23 record in the playoffs as well as a 3.24 GAA and a 0.899 Save Percentage. This year’s playoffs haven’t been much better for Bobrovsky and the Panthers. Bob has posted a 5.33 GAA and a 0.841 Save Percentage. That is horrible.
Bobrovsky has been active for three of the four games in this series so far. In his two starts in games one and four, Bobrovsky has allowed five goals in each game. His best performance was in relief in game three when he allowed zero goals on nine shots and helped Florida to a 6-5 OT win. Bobrovsky hasn’t gotten much help from the team inf front of him either, but some of the goals are completely on him.
I remember when Florida drafted Spencer Knight and then signed Bobrovsky 6 days later for $70 million. That was smart.
— World Hockey Report (@worldhockeyrpt) May 22, 2021
Who Starts Game 5?
A lot of fans are calling for Spencer Knight to make his playoff debut for Florida. While I am a huge fan of Spencer Knight, now is not a good time to give him his first playoff start. Between the two goalies in Sergei Bobrovsky and Chris Driedger, it is a tough call. The Panthers need to tighten up on defense first to give any of these goalies a fighting chance against Tampa Bay.
If I was picking the starter to keep my season alive, I would have to ride with the guy who led the team all season. I know Chirs Driedger hasn’t had the best start to his playoff career, but there are too many holed to fill with Bobrovsky. He clearly isn’t the same goalie that swept this same Lightning team two years ago. Driedger clearly has been the better of the two in this series. If I am Joel Quenneville, I would have to start Driedger in order to keep the season alive for the Florida Panthers.
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