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Matthew Tkachuk’s goal: Paul Maurice’s reaction was to hit his assistant

Seeing the Florida Panthers win yesterday is important. Why is it important? Because we’re not talking about a club that’s had a great playoff batting average since joining the NHL.

Here’s the number of rounds won by the Panthers in their history (prior to 2023) :

  • 1996: three rounds
  • 2022: one round
In 1997, 2000, 2012, 2016, 2020 and 2021, the club also participated in the playoffs, but was unable to get very far. No round was won in those years.

Laugh all you want about the Maple Leafs, but let’s just say that the Panthers haven’t had anything to show for their efforts since… I was born in 1996.

If the Panthers win the Stanley Cup in 2023, they’ll have doubled their career series wins. They’d won four series in all, and now they’re up to seven thanks to their recent success.

And it didn’t take many games to get Carolina out.

But to win one more series, they’ll need to win four more big games against a club to be determined. For the sake of argument, let’s give them a random name: the Vegas Golden Knights.

To beat Vegas (yes, I’m selling the Stars before I’ve killed them), the Panthers will have to rely on good players, but guys who don’t have a huge playoff track record.

Aside from Eric Staal (who’ll once again return to the finals, as he did in 2021), we can see that Carter Verhaeghe and Patrick Hornqvist, who hasn’t played in the playoffs, have a Cup.

But otherwise? Not much. Even behind the bench, the players won’t be able to rely on a coach brimming with Cup Final experience. Paul Maurice made it to the final once (2002, Carolina), and that was a long time ago.

But that doesn’t mean he’s not up to the challenge. He’s got plenty of experience before the final.

Paul Maurice may not be the most expressive of the lot, but yesterday he still found a way to demonstrate that he was a satisfied customer. How did he do it? By punching his assistant… who looked a little surprised.

Obviously, it’s a move tinged with respect, but let’s just say it’s surprising. It’s not every day that you see a hit as straightforward as this one, which is as vigorous as the one his team took yesterday against the Canes.

Besides, they’re discreet on Twitter, aren’t they? They don’t have the means to match their ambitions, let’s say.

In a gust

– Really?

– Antoine Roussel thinks Jamie Benn was punished too much. [98.5 Sports]

– Guy Boucher confirms: he doesn’t want to return to junior. [98.5 Sports]

– A club to watch.

– Ouch.

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