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Monday Mailbag – Strengths and weaknesses for the Stanley Cup contenders

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Photo credit:Tom Kostiuk
baggedmilk
1 month ago
Happy Monday, friends! Welcome to a brand new Monday Mailbag where I take your questions and send them off to the crew. This week, we’re discussing strengths and weaknesses in the Cup Final, keys to victory, Knoblauch vs. Maurice, and a whole lot more. If you’ve got a question you’d like to ask, email it to me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk , and I’ll get to you as soon as we can.
Jun 8, 2024; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) shoots the puck against Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) during the first period in game one of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final at Amerant Bank Arena.
1) Lance asks – We’ll have the first game in the record books by the time this gets posted, but what advantages and weaknesses do you see for either club?
Jason Gregor:
Bobrovsky was stellar and his play could be advantage for Florida. I felt Edmonton controlled much of the play and looked like the quicker team. I think their overall team speed is an advantage. Weakness is EDM has no right shot C and they struggled overall in the faceoff dot.
Cam Lewis:
The most clear advantage for Florida in this series was evident in Game 1, as Sergei Bobrovsky stole them a win in a game in which the Oilers doubled them in shots. I’m not sure the Panthers have much of an edge in any aspect other than goaltending.
Zach Laing:
Edmonton’s strengths were just about everywhere. They played strong in all three zones, limiting the Panthers’ game and playing one of their best of the playoffs. The problem was that they couldn’t beat Bobrovsky, and two significant breakdowns from the Darnell Nurse – Cody Ceci pair cost them. Edmonton needs to continue to play with pace, while the Panthers are going to want to do about everything better.
Baggedmilk:
The advantage for the Oilers is the top-end skill. That’s not a shot at Barkov, Tkachuk, Bennett, et al, but none of those guys are Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. As for the Panthers’ strengths, it’s hard not to point at Sergei Bobrovsky and see what he did in Game 1. Goalie Bob was, in my opinion, the main reason the Oilers are down 1-0 in the series.
Jun 8, 2024; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) dives to block a shot by Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) during the second period in game one of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final at Amerant Bank Arena.
2) Oilers fan in Van asks – Put your coach’s cap on for a minute and give me your single biggest key to winning this series against the Panthers.
Jason Gregor:
Edmonton will need to bury their chances. At this point, execution matters more than matchups in my eyes.
Cam Lewis:
Avoid falling into Florida’s pesky trap. They throw more hits than anybody else in the league and do a very good job of getting under the skin of their opponents. So long as the Oilers stay on their game, they’ll get opportunities on the power play and they’ll eventually start to put pucks past Bobrovsky.
Zach Laing:
The Oilers need to do a better job defending off the rush. It’s been something they turned around in a big way this season, but it cost them twice in Game 1. Oh yeah, and put the puck in the net. That would help.
Baggedmilk:
Limit the big mistakes. In Game 1, there were two major errors by the Oilers that wound up in the back of the net, and that can’t happen again. The Panthers are way too good to be giving them high danger chances like that.
3) Kevin S. asks – We all know it’s been 18 years since the Oilers were last in the Stanley Cup Final. But how many versions of the team has it been? Every year there is some player change, but every few years, there is a big change in the core, and it’s basically a totally different team. I feel like most of the team that went to the 2006 finals was gone by 2008. So which core groups have come and gone since the last finals run? How would you define the Oilers Eras of the last 18 years?
Jason Gregor:
2007-2010 was the Cup remnants era. Close, but not good enough.
2011-2015 was Hall, RNH, Eberle and the losing era.
2016-2019…was Bad management era as they did little to surround McDavid.
2020-present. Elite talent in McDavid and Draisaitl and lots of good players around them.
Cam Lewis:
The 2006-07 through 2008-09 seasons were the years they tried to be competitive, from 2009-10 to 2014-15 were the Oil Change years, and everything since has been the Connor McDavid era, which can be broken down into Peter Chiarelli’s years and Ken Holland’s years.
Zach Laing:
Gregor summarized this one up pretty well.
Baggedmilk:
It’s a tough question to answer, but I’d guess there were probably five different teams during the decade of darkness that we all expected to do something. Whether we’re talking about H.O.P.E. or selling ourselves on Eric Belanger being a difference maker because he signed an extra year, there are so many ghosts from that period in the team’s history that it’s almost mind blowing to think about.
May 10, 2024; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Edmonton Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch on the bench against the Vancouver Canucks during the first period game two of the second round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
4) Yves asks – Are you at all concerned about the difference in experience between Kris Knoblauch and Paul Maurice? Why or why not?
Jason Gregor:
Not really. Many coaches have said in the Cup Final you don’t want to get in the way. I don’t think there is some magical matchup that will help Maurice because of his 1700+ games of more experience.
Cam Lewis:
Kris Knoblauch has made some very effective decisions throughout Edmonton’s run and has been excellent in keeping the team calm to avoid spiralling. He wasn’t outcoached by Rick Tocchet or Pete DeBoer, both of whom are strong veterans, so there’s no reason to assume he’s out of his depth against Paul Maurice.
Zach Laing:
I don’t think so. Knoblauch has already outcoached some damn fine coaches in Rick Tocchet and Pete DeBoer, and has shown he has the chops to be here. That being said, going back to Nurse-Ceci was a blemish on the whole coaching staff that Knoblauch will wear here.
Baggedmilk:
I’m not concerned at all. Kris Knoblauch has shown us time and time again that he’s well prepared and able to make the tough decisions needed to win. Paul Maurice has been everywhere and seen everything, but I don’t necessarily think that experience is going to be a major factor.
5) Calvin asks – What do you remember about the 2006 Cup run, and how does it compare to what we’re seeing here in 2024?
Jason Gregor:
The city and fan base came alive. It was unexpected and everyone enjoyed the ride. This year’s team was expected to be good, and it seems that if they don’t win some will view it as a failure. No one really considers 2006 a failure. It hurt for the players, and fans, to lose, no question, but I’ve never heard anyone refer to that 2006 run as a failure. This season isn’t one either, but I’ve read many already mentioning in that regard which is illustrates the biggest difference for me.
Cam Lewis:
The two runs feel very different. The one in 2006 was completely out of the blue. There had just been the lockout the year prior and the new rules were meant to make it easier for markets like Edmonton to contend, but nobody saw them going on a run to the Stanley Cup Final as the eighth seed. With this run, it’s been a build over the past few years. The team made noise with that win over Calgary in 2022 and many believed they would get the job done in 2023, so there are higher expectations with this run.
Zach Laing:
Well, considering I was about 10 years old and living in Calgary, my memories about that cup run aren’t significant. That being said, it was the year my dad let me stay up late enough to watch most of the games that season, and it was the year I fell in love with the game of hockey.
But just looking back at the last four playoff runs, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt excitement in the air in any previous year like this one. It has been loud in this city.
Baggedmilk:
I was old enough to remember both runs quite well, and I think what stands out the most is how alive the city becomes during a run like this. The cheering, the noise, the car flags, and the spectacle all feels very similar to me. The biggest difference is obviously that we’re doing this for the first time in the social media era.

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