Panthers have yet to face a team like the Oilers

NHL Faceoff Connor McDavid Anton Lundell
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
9 days ago
Is Florida the best team Edmonton will face in the playoffs? I’d say yes, even though Dallas was close, but Edmonton is the best team, by far, that Florida will face when you look at some 5×5 and special teams’ statistical categories.
Florida was the stingiest defensive team in the NHL in the regular season. They were tied with Winnipeg for fewest goals against, 198, and they allowed the fewest goals 5×5 at 120. However, they were 26th in 5×5 scoring with 156 goals. Edmonton ranked 3rd in 5×5 goals for (193) and was 9th in 5×5 GA (153).
Here are the regular season 5×5 rankings for Florida and their three playoff opponents.
FLA156 (26th)120 (1st)+36 (5th)
TB172 (14th)190 (28th)-18 (25th)
BOS174 (12th)135 (3rd)39 (4th)
NYR167 (19th)165 (15th)+2 (16th)
Florida’s opponents were, on average, 15th in GF, 15th in GA and 15th in GF-GA differential, and their combined differential was +23.
EDM193 (3rd)153 (9th)+40 (3rd)
LA166 (20th)143 (5th)+23 (10th)
VAN188 (5th)137 (4th)+51 (2nd)
DAL192 (4th)161 (12th)+31 (7th)
Edmonton’s opponents averaged 9th in GF, 7th in GA and 6th in GF-GA differential, and their combined differential was +105. Edmonton faced tougher opponents based on 5×5 goals for and against. I should point out that Thatcher Demko did not play in the Oilers/Canucks series, so that is a significant factor, but doesn’t change the regular season numbers.
xGF% means very little (for me) in the playoffs because the sample size is too small in each series, but it is useful in the regular season.
FLA174 (10th)146 (3rd)28 (5th)
TB160 (25th)166 (15th)-6 (20th)
BOS166 (19th)166 (14th)0 (18th)
NYR167 (18th)173 (15th)-6 (20th)
Florida’s opponents average ranking in xGF was 20th, they were 15th in xGA and 19th in xGF-GA differential.
EDM212 (1st)160 (9th)52 (1st)
LA180 (8th)150 (6th)30 (4th)
VAN169 (17th)154 (5th)15 (8th)
DAL182 (7th)148 (4th)34 (3rd)
The Oilers’ opponents ranked 10th in xGF, 5th in xGA and 5th in xGF-GA. Once again Edmonton opponents were more difficult based on regular season rankings.
In the playoffs, the Oilers are averaging 2.58 goals/60 and allowed 2.51 GA/60. The Panthers have scored 2.28 GF/60 and 1.76 GA/60. While facing tougher 5×5 defending teams (based on the regular season), the Oilers have scored more goals, but they’ve also allowed more, which jives with facing more productive 5×5 teams.


While Edmonton has faced more difficult teams 5×5, Florida has faced opponents with better regular season special teams.
FLA8th (23.5%)6th (82.5%)
TB1st (28.6%)5th (83.3%)
BOS14th (22.2%)6th (82.5%)
NYR3rd (26.4%)3rd (84.5%)
The Panthers opponents were on average 6th in PP% and 5th in PK%.
EDM4th (26.3%)15th (79.5%)
LA12th (22.6%)2nd (84.6%)
VAN11th (22.7%)17th (79.1%)
DAL6th (24.2%)8th (82%)
Edmonton’s opposition had an average ranking of 10th in PP% and 9th in PK%.
In the playoffs the Oilers PP is 19-for-51 (37.3%).
Edmonton went 9-for-20 v. LA (45%), they went 6-for-20 (30%) v. Vancouver and were 4-for-11 (36.3%) v. Dallas.
Florida’s PP is 14-for-60 and 23.3%.
They were 3-for-13 v. Tampa (23%), they went 6-for-28 (21.4%) against Boston and were 5-for-19 (26.3%) v. the Rangers.
The Panthers have had 60 power play opportunities (PPO) in 17 games, while Edmonton has had 51 in 18 games. The Panthers have averaged 3.52 PPO while the Oilers have had 2.83/game.
Edmonton has faced slightly easier PK opponents than Florida but have scored at a much higher rate.
Both teams have been great on the penalty kill. Florida is 88.2% with two shorthanded goals, while the Oilers are 93.9% and have scored one shorthanded goal. In the playoffs Edmonton is -2 on the PK and Florida is -4. Very impressive.
Edmonton was 100% (12-for-12) v. LA. They were 86.9% v. Vancouver killing off 2o of 23 penalties and were 100% (14 for 14) against Dallas.
Florida was 80% v. Tampa allowing four goals on 20 kills. They were 93.8% v. Boston killing off 15 of 16 penalties and they were 93.3% against the Rangers allowing one goal on 15 kills.
Florida has averaged slightly more times shorthanded (TS) per game at 3.00 while Edmonton sits at 2.72.
The Panthers have had nine more PPO (60) than TS (51), while the Oilers are had two more PPO (51) than TS (49). There has been a lot of talk about the Panthers taking penalties, as they were the most penalized team in the regular season, but they’ve been physically disciplined in the playoffs.
Both teams have been good on special teams, especially on the penalty kill, but the Oilers still have the advantage heading in, because of their elite power play.
Last year, the Panthers special teams were a major reason they lost the Stanley Cup to Vegas. Florida was shorthanded seven times in Game 1 and four times in Game 2 and allowed two PP goals in each game and trailed the series 2-0 heading back to Florida. They were much more disciplined in Games 4 and 5, taking one minor in each game, but still lost both of them. I suspect they will be more composed in the opening two games this year.
Florida did a fantastic job of getting the Boston Bruins off their game in round two. Boston was shorthanded 28 times while the Panthers were on the PK 16 times. I would be cautious in believing Florida will take a lot of penalties. In the last two rounds the Oilers have been shorthanded 34 times while Florida has been on the kill 31 times.


Nov 20, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Florida Panthers left wing Matthew Tkachuk (19) controls the puck away from Edmonton Oilers defenseman Brett Kulak (27) during the second period at Amerant Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
I’ve seen a lot read and said asking how McDavid will handle playing against the 2024 Selke winner, Aleksander Barkov. I understand that viewpoint, as Barkov is very good, however, I’ll be surprised Florida can win the series if their number #1 centre is on the ice for only one goal for at 5×5 in the series, like he was vs. the New York Rangers. Slowing down Mika Zibanejad is much easier than slowing down McDavid. Can Barkov slow down McDavid? Maybe we should also be asking how McDavid will handle Barkov.
McDavid leads the playoffs with 15 points 5×5. The Oilers have the five top-scorers at 5×5 with Evan Bouchard (14), Zach Hyman (13), Leon Draisaitl (12) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (11). Florida is led by Carter Verhaeghe, Anton Lundell and Gustav Forsling, who each have nine points.
I expect the more common matchup will be Forsling and Aaron Ekblad vs. McDavid. Barkov faced off against Mika Zibanejad (49 min), David Pastrnak (35) and Nikita Kucherov (27) in each of the first three rounds. However, Forsling and Ekblad faced Zibanejad for 55 minutes, logged 52 minutes vs. Pastrnak and Forsling played 48 minutes v. Kucherov while Ekblad played 45 minutes.
That is more of the matchup I’ll be watching. Forsling is a great skater and has an excellent stick, but none of the forwards he’s faced equal McDavid’s skillset. It should be wonderful to watch how each team handles the strength of their opponent.


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