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GDB +23.0: Have the Oilers figured out Bobrovsky? (6pm MT, CBC)

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Photo credit:© Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
28 days ago
Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 79 of 81 shots he faced in the first 166:02 of this series. Through eight periods and six minutes, he looked unbeatable. However, in the next 38:57 of play the Oilers scored seven goals on 21 shots.
Bobrovsky had a .975Sv% for the first 166 minutes of the series, but he posted a .667Sv% in his most recent 39 minutes of play.
Be sure to check out the latest NHL playoff odds with online sportsbook Betway.
He was due for a bit of a reset after a scorching start, but I also don’t expect him to be as leaky as he has been since Philip Broberg scored in the third period of Game 3. Kevin Woodley from In Goal Magazine shared his thoughts about Bobrovsky’s play in the series.
“In the first three games Bobrovsky was +5.34 on goals above expected,” said Kevin Woodley, one of the best goalie analysts out there. “That matches his entire total up until that point through the playoffs. He basically doubled how many goals he saved the Panthers in those three games. That tells you two things. One, outside of Game 2, the Oilers generated quality chances, but two, what you saw in the first three games wasn’t the norm. To expect him to go back to levels in those games is unrealistic. Can Bobrovsky bounce back? No doubt, but to the level he was in the first three games seems unrealistic. He was superhuman in two of those first three games,” added Woodley.
So, did the Oilers just start to get some bounces, or did they attack Bobrovsky differently in Game 4?
“The Oilers’ decision to shoot from distance helped,” said Woodley. “McDavid is higher in the zone (when he shoots) and the reason low blocker is such a good choice there, is that Bob is likely thinking he’s probably going to cut across to his backhand, so you’ve got your weight on his right skate, and as soon as you have your weight on your right skate anticipating a push to your left, you can’t push back to your right as much, so it was a good shot selection by McDavid.
“We saw another good shot from distance from Nurse and we saw it from Ekholm earlier in the series. That is one trend, instead of looking for the perfect tic-tac-toe play backdoor on Bobrovsky, because he’s very good on those. Lateral plays below the hashmarks are usually his best plays.
“The other part is when they did get down low, or deeper in the zone, even off rush chances, they strung him out and got him extended out wide, which was another part of the pre-scout going into this. You can pull him laterally, and rather than retreat to the post he will get caught, at times, outside of them, and we saw that on a couple of goals,” said Woodley.
The Oilers made better shot selections, but Bobrovsky was also due to regress a little bit from this ridiculous .975Sv%. I think Bobrovsky will be fine, but by allowing seven goals, he opened the door for the Oilers to see where he is vulnerable. They beat him from the high slot, but also down low by stretching him out. When you watch tonight, look for where and how they are attacking. If they try to beat in him in tight too often, they are playing to his strengths. You need to keep attacking to the areas he is a bit more vulnerable, because as Woodley has stated many times, every goalie has a weakness. However, the great ones don’t let you see those weaknesses very often.

SKINNER WAS SOLID…

The 8-1 score likely overshadowed how good Stuart Skinner played. He made some huge saves, especially in the first period, when Florida created more quality chances than the Oilers did. Skinner was much better than the box score might indicate.
“The Oilers created 13 high-danger chances and gave up nine via Clear Sight Analytics,” said Woodley. “They created almost six expected goals and scored eight, while the Panthers created almost four expected goals and only scored one. Skinner gave himself a chance by being a little bit deeper, and I thought he gave himself a better chance to make saves by playing a touch more conservative positionally, especially on cross passes.
“I thought his situational awareness was very good. It (situational awareness) takes experience and years of experience to become instinctual and innate, and so it’s not like a panic that we’ve seen it missing at times in the playoffs. You have to remember he’s only in his second season in the National Hockey League.”
The Oilers can’t get fooled, and I don’t think they will, into thinking the 8-1 score was a reflection of the overall game. No doubt, Edmonton deserved to win, however, if they want to bring the series back to Edmonton for Game 6, they would be better served to limit some of the high-danger chances.

GAME PREVIEW PRESENTED BY BETWAY

LINEUPS…

Oilers

Foegele — McDavid — Hyman
RNH — Draisaitl — Holloway
Janmark — Henrique —Brown
McLeod — Ryan — Perry
Ekholm — Bouchard
Nurse — Broberg
Kulak — Ceci
Skinner
Evander Kane isn’t ready to play, so the Oilers will stick with the same lineup as Game 4.  Knoblauch juggled his lines in Game 4 and it worked. McDavid’s line outshot the Panthers 8-3 and outscored them 2-0. The Janmark – Henrique – Brown line was excellent scoring a goal, and not allowing one high-danger chance against.
McDavid’s line will see a lot of the Gustav Forsling – Aaron Ekblad pairing as well as the Barkov line tonight. It will be a challenge to score against them.
Barkov, Forsling and Ekblad have logged 143 minutes together at 5×5. Their overall GF-GA at 5×5 is 6-6. In 75 minutes together on home ice their GF-GA is 5-4.
Forsling and Ekblad have skated 196 minutes together, without Barkov, and they have a 7-5 goal differential and in 97 minutes on home is it is 2-1.
In the first two games of the series, those three logged 14:16 against McDavid. McDavid outshot them 10-8, but there were no goals scored when those four were on the ice.
Forsling and Ekblad, without Barkov, logged 7:00 against McDavid. Again, no goals were scored, and the shots were 4-4. The Oilers’ top line will need a strong game.

Panthers

Rodrigues — Barkov — Reinhart
Tkachuk — Bennett — Verhaeghe
Luostarinen — Lundell — Tarasenko
Lomberg — Stenlund — Okposo
Forsling — Ekblad
Mikkola — Montour
Ekman-Larsson — Kulikov
Bobrovsky
Ryan Lomberg will make his series debut on the fourth line, replacing Steven Lorentz. Lomberg is quick and physical, and Paul Maurice is looking to inject some more speed into his lineup. Lomberg likely won’t play a lot, but he will be running around, so the Oilers defenders need to have their heads up.
Something to watch tonight: The Tkachuk-Bennett-Verhaeghe line has played 21:04 together at 5×5 in this series and they’ve been outshot 16-9 and outscored 5-0.
When Evan Rodrigues plays with Tkachuk and Bennett (17:04) that line has outshot the Oilers 8-4 and outscored them 1-0. I realize they are very small sample sizes, but it is worth noting the difference, and why the Draisaitl-Bennett matchup could become a huge factor tonight.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: I expected this to be a long series at the start, and in order for that to happen Edmonton needs to win tonight. Oilers extend series with a 3-2 victory.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: We will see a goal in the first 10 minutes of play. Every game has had a first period goal, with the average tally coming at the 9:21 mark.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers score a 5-on-4 power play goal — their first of the series.

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