Oilers face uphill battle in Stanley Cup Final if key players don’t show up soon

Photo credit:© Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Liam Horrobin
1 month ago
The path to NHL glory has become much harder for the Edmonton Oilers. After heading into the Stanley Cup Final high on confidence from a 4-2 series win in the Western Conference Final, the Oilers find themselves down 2-0 to the Florida Panthers.
Much has gone wrong, but the most surprising occurrence is the lack of goals. Only Mattias Ekholm has beaten Sergei Bobrovsky through 120 minutes and, towards the end of Game 2, the frustration was noticeable.
Edmonton’s biggest chance of winning comes from their stars. While the power play hasn’t scored yet, they were unlucky in Game 2 with Evan Bouchard and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins hitting the frame of the goal. Zach Hyman had a great chance in Game 1, too, right before Evan Rodrigues made it 2-0. If they bury those chances, it’s a different game.
“I think our best players have been pretty good,” said head coach Kris Knoblauch when asked about his star players. “We hit three posts on the power play. If those go in, we are talking about a different story. Yes, we’d like some more goals, but I think our top guys have been really good.”
“We’ve got to work our way out of it,” said Connor McDavid on the Oilers’ power-play woes. “They’re a unique penalty kill, just like they’re a unique team. They’re aggressive. You’ve got to have guys ready for the puck and guys that can make plays. You’ve got to be able to string good plays together, and we haven’t been able to do that.”
However, while the power play has shown glimpses, at five-on-five it’s been more of a struggle. On Monday, the Oilers didn’t have one high-danger chance at five-on-five, according to Natural Stat Trick. The Panthers were limited to four but still scored twice.
Depth scoring has come and gone throughout the postseason. Right now, it’s vanished. Mattias Janmark and Connor Brown have played fantastically, drawing penalties, killing penalties and staying physical. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about many others. Ryan McLeod has fallen back into his old offensive habits, Warren Foegele hasn’t scored since Game 1 against the Los Angeles Kings, and Evander Kane is clearly suffering from an injury. Dylan Holloway is like a dog on a bone for the puck, like Janmark and Brown, but his scoring touch hasn’t been seen since the Vancouver series.
Heading into Game 3, the Oilers need to find ways to get their offence flowing again. An idea could be to reunite Foegele and McLeod with Draisaitl. McLeod and Foegele aren’t deserving of the promotion; however, the only time we’ve seen offence from them is with the Oilers’ superstar. Game 3 is a must-win, so you’ve got to pull out all the tricks you have.
“We can certainly be better. It starts with me,” said Leon Draisaitl on the team’s lack of offence. “There’s certainly a lot more to give, and we will be a lot better.”
Despite all the negativity, there is good news. The Oilers now head home to Rogers Place, which has been an advantage to them all year. The seats will be packed with 18,000 strong, and they’ll support the players until the end. The production needs to happen on the ice, but the city’s atmosphere should also play a role.

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