“It’s there for us, but you don’t think about it”: Aleksander Barkov and Panthers remain focused on their approach to the Cup 

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Florida Panthers at Edmonton Oilers
“It’s there for us, but you don’t think about it”: Aleksander Barkov and Panthers remain focused on their approach to the Cup

Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov isn’t about to change his approach against the Edmonton Oilers, despite holding a commanding 3-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Final. His approach has gotten him to within one game of hoisting the Cup, but fans shouldn't expect to see any changes at this point in the postseason.

Barkov talked about his mindset going into Game 4 on Saturday with the Cup within his grasp (via NHL.com):

"It’s there for us, but you don’t think about it. You can’t think about it," Barkov said.

Not "thinking about it” means the Panthers can’t afford to get ahead of themselves. They still need one more win before they can celebrate winning the franchise's first-ever Stanley Cup title. In short, the Panthers’ mindset is about taking things one game at a time.

Forward Matthew Tkachuk echoed this sentiment:

"We’ve done such a good job of having that one game simple mindset. Win your first period, win your first few shifts. That’s all you’ve got to do tomorrow. It’s a really calm, kind of chilled, relaxed group today. Use that to your advantage," Tkachuk said.

That simple, one-game mindset has gotten the Panthers this far. Now, as they prepare for Game 4, the mission is to keep executing their game plan.

Paul Maurice wants Panthers to 'handle their day'

Panthers head coach Paul Maurice echoed Barkov’s mindset. Maurice said (via NHL.com):

"We’ve got to structure for our day-to-day. We talk about this all the time, so this isn’t the first time they’ve heard it. ‘Handle your day.’ So we have a structure for that."

That structure has helped Aleksander Barkov and Co. to stay focused despite facing immense pressure. Considering that Maurice has never won a Cup either, the pressure and emotions can be tough to handle.

But it’s the team’s structure that’s kept both players and coaches on the right path. Maurice added:

"We’ll go back to what we know, and at the end of the day, that’s why you handle your day. There’s nothing new to what we’re going to do. The puck is going to drop. It’s going to be the exact same sport. There’s nothing new here. The context is different."

That "different context" is a potential Stanley Cup victory. For the Edmonton Oilers, it’s an elimination game. So, the Panthers can expect Edmonton to come out with their best game of the season.

As far as Aleksander Barkov and Paul Maurice are concerned, it’s just another playoff game. But there could be a major prize in their hands when the final horn sounds.

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Edited by Veer Badani
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