The Florida Panthers had lofty expectations in the Stanley Cup Playoffs after a remarkable regular season that saw them crowned Presidents’ Trophy winners. After getting past the Capitals in six games in the first round, the Panthers were matched up with the reigning champs in the Tampa Bay Lightning. What was anticipated as being a tightly-contested series turned out to be anything but, as the Lightning stomped all over the Panthers en route to a 4-0 sweep.

It’s a huge disappointment for the Panthers, who went from having the NHL’s most potent offense to failing to record even a single multi-goal game against the Lightning. Fans are rightfully up in arms over the team’s humiliating postseason showing, and the blame game has begun as people are looking for someone to scapegoat for the team’s struggles. While this was a team failure, it’s impossible to ignore certain individuals who underperformed throughout the series.

For all the talent the Panthers have on the roster, the fact they managed to score just 3 goals in the series against the Lightning is flat-out unacceptable. Their power-play unit was putrid, managing just one goal in the entire playoffs despite being one of the strongest groups during the regular season.

With all that in mind, we’re going to point out the three individuals who need to shoulder the blame for the Panthers’ humiliating second-round exit at the hands of the Lightning.

3 Panthers players most to blame for playoff collapse vs. Lightning

3. Jonathan Huberdeau

After a sensational regular season for the Panthers, Huberdeau looked like a shell of himself during the playoffs. Throughout the season, Huberdeau recorded 115 points, scoring 30 goals and assisting a league-high 85. After logging more than one point per game in the regular season, Huberdeau managed just five points in 10 games during the playoffs, including just two points in the series against the Lightning.

He only scored one goal throughout the entire playoffs, and despite being out on the ice for the majority of Florida’s power-play minutes, the team scored just one single goal with a man advantage throughout the entire postseason. Considering Huberdeau is one of the main catalysts of the team’s offense, particularly on the power-play, it’s impossible not to place a significant amount of the blame on him. While Andrei Vasilevskiy was sensational for the Lightning, Florida’s inability to find the back of the net was inexcusable.

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2. Aleksander Barkov

Sasha Barkov is the captain of the Panthers, so it stands to reason that he’ll take a significant chunk of the responsibility for the team’s embarrassing showing in the playoffs. After logging 88 points in 67 games during the regular season, Barkov vanished in the playoffs, recording seven points in 10 games. The team’s leading scorer found the back of the net just twice in the playoffs and was held off the score sheet entirely against the Lightning, managing just one point in the four-game sweep.

As a team leader and one of the best players on the ice, Barkov’s inability to produce much on offense, particularly on the power-play, is a key reason the Panthers are heading home early. He was particularly poor in Game 3, where he recorded a plus-minus of -4. Panthers fans were expecting Barkov to help turn the tide against the Lightning, but when push came to shove, the captain took a step back and Florida was worse off for it.

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1. Mackenzie Weegar

Of all the mistakes the Panthers made throughout the playoffs, none was more crippling than Weegar’s errant pass in Game 2 which resulted in Ross Colton’s game-winning goal with just a few seconds left on the clock. It was a pivotal turning point in the series. The Game 2 loss meant that Florida had failed to win a game on their home ice against the Lightning, putting them down 2-0 before the series flipped to Tampa. Had Weegar not made the critical mistake in the waning moments of Game 2, the Panthers may have been able to win in overtime and have the series knotted up before heading to Tampa.

Head coach Andrew Brunette tried to downplay the mistake, suggesting it was the result of the team failing to clear the puck as the clock was winding down, but it was clear to the naked eye that Weegar’s costly giveaway sealed the deal on the series. Florida didn’t even compete in Games 3 and 4, getting rolled over with ease as the Lightning booked their tickets to the Conference Finals.