Could Florida Panthers lineup changes be coming in Game 5? What Paul Maurice had to say

Jordan McPherson, Miami Herald on

Published in Hockey

After the Florida Panthers got blown out by the Edmonton Oilers in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, coach Paul Maurice said he needed at least a day to decide if he was going to make any lineup changes moving forward.

While nothing is set in stone, it looks as if at least one move could be made based on how the team looked at practice on Monday.

Ryan Lomberg was on the left wing of the Panthers’ fourth line during practice, skating with center Kevin Stenlund and right wing Kyle Okposo. Should that hold, that means Lomberg would replace Steven Lorentz in the lineup for Game 5, which is set for an 8 p.m. puck drop at Amerant Bank Arena. The Panthers lead the best-of-7 series 3-1 and need just one more win to claim the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history.

“Certainly considering it,” Maurice said of the lineup change.

To this point, Maurice has run with the same lineup through the first four games of the Stanley Cup Final — understandable considering Florida won the first three games of the series before the 8-1 rout by Edmonton on Saturday.

Maurice said needing to have the conversations with players about being taken out of the lineup — especially in a situation where they can wrap up the series — is one of the toughest things he has to do as a coach.

“But,” Maurice said, “they also understand that it’s good for the team. You do the right thing. You handle it as best you can and stay as part of the group.”

Lomberg, a fixture on Florida’s fourth line last season, has only played in five games so far in this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs — Game 1 of the first round against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Game 6 of the second round against the Boston Bruins, and Games 1-3 of the Eastern Conference final against the New York Rangers.


But Maurice could turn to the 29-year-old forward to bring an extra bit of tenacity and physicality to his fourth line in the team’s second chance to win the Stanley Cup. He has 20 hits in fewer than 40 minutes of game action so far in the playoffs.

On the practice front, three mainstays were not on the ice Monday in forwards Matthew Tkachuk and Sam Bennett plus defenseman Aaron Ekblad, but Maurice said all of them should be good to go for Game 5.

This and that

— Only three times in NHL history has a team with a 3-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Final failed to clinch the series by Game 5. Those three instances: 2012 (The New Jersey Devils beat the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 in Game 5; the Kings won the series in six games), 1945 (The Detroit Red Wings beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-0 in Game 5; Toronto won the series in seven games) and 1942 (Toronto beat Detroit 9-3 in Game 5 en route to winning the series in seven games).

— The Panthers are 4-1 this playoffs in games after a loss, outscoring opponents 21-10 in those five games. Half of the goals given up came in the one loss among the five games — a 5-4 overtime loss to the Rangers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final.


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