Aleksander Barkov's Game 3 Status Could Impact Entire Stanley Cup Final

How significant would it be if he can't go?

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Barkov Questionable Heading Into Game 3

The Panthers captain took a massive hit from Oilers' forward Leon Draisaitl in Game 2 and didn't play the final 9:28 of their 4-1 win over Edmonton. It looked like a pretty severe injury at first, with Barkov being down on the ice for a solid minute after the hit, before being helped off the ice by trainers and taken to the locker room. It was being reviewed by the refs as a possible five-minute major penalty before they assessed a standard minor for roughing to Draisaitl.

With that being said, Barkov did participate in practice on Wednesday, which is a very positive sign that he will be ready to go for their Game 3 match with the Oilers on Thursday. Florida leads the Stanley Cup Final series 2-0 after consecutive home-ice victories and now will travel up to Western Canada for two games in Edmonton.

Barkov's Impact

It is hard to understate how important a team captain is to a team, as there is a lot that they do outside of usually being a really good player. There is a reason they are voted team captain, and that is because they are well-liked and admired in the locker room. They inspire their teammates and keep the team spirit high in tough times and moments.

Barkov not only is all that for Florida, but he also is a two-time Selke Trophy winner, including taking the award home this year. The trophy goes to the best defensive forward in the league, and he has been a huge reason why superstars Connor McDavid and Draisaitl haven't really made an impact in this series so far. McDavid had one assist and three shots on goal in Game 2, and Draisaitl had two shots and no points. Before this series started, the two of them had combined for 59 points in 18 playoff games.

The NHL's top three scorers in the 2024 postseason (McDavid, Draisaitl, and defenseman Evan Bouchard) have combined for just two assists in the first two games of the series.

Stanley Cup Final Game 3 Odds

Right now, the Oilers are favored on their home ice at -135 at most sportsbooks. That isn't shocking since we know that we are likely to see their best effort, as teams that go down 3-0 are almost as good as dead. The total is sitting at 5.5 right now, with the first two games going under, and only coming close to the over on last-minute empty net goals.

Barkov's props are not being listed right now anywhere, as books do not seem to want to take action on him with his status up in the air. He's currently the second-favorite for the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP, behind his teammate and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who has been brilliant in the net against Edmonton.

However, if Barkov can't go, that could have a major impact on that race as well. His defensive presence on McDavid has been noticeable, and on the road, they are going to need him to be at 100% if they want to contain the league's best player. If Bobrovsky has a poor performance without Barkov on the ice, his value should shoot through the roof as the clear MVP.