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Stanley Cup Playoff Storylines: Panthers Need a Miracle, Blues Need a Boost

History isn't on the Panthers' side when it comes to reverse sweeps, and St. Louis needs to move on without a goalie that has played like a star. There's a lot on the line and Monday, and it's time to get you prepared for it.
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History isn't on the Panthers' side when it comes to reverse sweeps, and St. Louis needs to move on without a goalie that has played like a star. There's a lot on the line and Monday, and it's time to get you prepared for it.

Florida Panthers vs Tampa Bay Lightning

Is this the end of the line for the Presidents' Trophy winners?

Everyone knew the Lightning were an incredible opponent and were going to force an elimination situation against the league's top team this season at some point – likely in Game 7.

But in Game 4? Now that's a big shock.

The Panthers struggled in a 4-1 win in Game 1 before losing on Ross Colton's goal with just four seconds to go in Game 2. They needed a big response in Game 3, but instead lost 5-1 in the team's worst effort of the playoffs.

Given the team's rough run against Washington, Florida's struggles aren't crazy to believe. But Tampa needed seven games against a tough Toronto Maple Leafs team, so it's not like they were extra rested. But the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions have simply outplayed Florida in every aspect, and now the Panthers need to find something quickly to avoid an early exit on the road.

Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky hasn't been the issue. Scoring has. It's hard to win when you've got three goals in three games, and Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, Claude Giroux, Sam Bennett and Carter Verhaeghe have combined for zero goals. Huberdeau (two assists) is the only Panther with more than just one point.

The key is simple: find out how to get this offense working. The last team to pull off a reverse sweep was when Los Angeles beat San Jose in seven games during the first round in 2014, so, realistically, history isn't on Florida's side.

St. Louis Blues vs. Colorado Avalanche

When the Stanley Cup playoffs kicked off earlier this month, Ville Husso was St. Louis' starting goalie.

Husso had mixed results in the first three games of the first round against Minnesota and was replaced before Game 4 by Jordan Binnington. Binnington went on to lead the Blues to a first-round victory and was giving the team some real hope against Colorado. 

But an injury suffered after a collision with Nazem Kadri on Saturday means Husso will need to play the rest of the way, and this is where the team hopes its goaltending depth can save them.

Husso was good throughout the regular season, posting a 25-7-6 record with two shutouts. But his early playoff results were a bit wonky, and he can't let that happen again against an Avalanche team that will make you suffer much more than Minnesota would.

If the Blues are going to win this, Husso – a pending UFA – essentially has to play the best stretch of hockey in his career. The Blues have kept up with the Avs, but if Husso can't channel Binnington's performances, this might not last much longer.

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