Big concerns around Matthew Tkachuk ahead of Game 5.

Big concerns around Matthew Tkachuk ahead of Game 5.

The Florida Panthers All-Star winger did not look like himself on Saturday night, and now his status is in doubt.

Jonathan Larivee

In spite of the fact that they now find themselves staring down a significant deficit in the Stanley Cup Final, you can hardly blame the Florida Panthers and their fans for remaining confident about their odds of winning the Stanley Cup.

The Panthers already surmounted one such deficit against the best team in the history of the regular season, the 2022-23 Boston Bruins, so they know they've got it within themselves to do it once again. One of the major issues this time around however will be the questions surrounding the status of Panthers star forward Matthew Tkachuk.

Tkachuk looked like a mere shell of himself during Saturday night's Game 4 and if there was any doubt about the fact that Tkachuk is currently dealing with an injury, those doubts were promptly erased in the third period. Tkachuk was glued to the Panthers bench for the vast majority of the final frame in spite of the fact that his team was down a goal, playing a total of just 4 shifts throughout the entire period.

The source of Tkachuk's alleged injury currently remains a mystery and likely will until the series has concluded, but many suspect that Tkachuk is dealing with some type of shoulder injury caused by this hit from the Golden Knights' Keegan Kolesar in Game 3.

Tkachuk and Panthers head coach Paul Maurice both declined to comment on specifics following the conclusion of Game 4.

“That’s just not gonna come out right now,” said Tkachuk of the injury as per the Miami Herald. “I don’t know what’s going to come from this, but we’re excited we have an opportunity to come through like we did in the Boston series.”

When asked about Tkachuk's status for Game 5, Maurice was deliberately vague.

"Well, we have two days off to assess that," said Maurice. "We’ll get some rest and we’ll see.”

Tkachuk is without question one of the most important players in the Florida Panthers lineup, but if he is unable to play there isn't much point to having him on the bench. These next few days could prove pivotal for Tkachuk and the Panthers, and could very well play a significant role in whether or not they are able to stave off elimination in Game 5.