Oilers looking for more scoring as Stanley Cup Finals shifts home

Edmonton Oilers Florida Panthers
Photo credit:Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
1 month ago
I don’t need to be the one to tell you that a hockey team isn’t going to win many games scoring one goal across two games.
But for the Edmonton Oilers, that’s exactly the position they find themselves in through the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Florida Panthers. Shutout in Game 1 despite outshooting the Cats 32-18, they couldn’t find a way to break through against Sergei Bobrovsky, who stood on his head stopping 4.01 goals above expected.
That number was the highest of any game he played this season, according to Evolving Hockey, and followed it up with another strong performance in Game 2, albeit one where the Oilers were outshot 29-19.
While the big guns have struggled to get going, the Oilers have also been missing offence from the bottom of their roster, too. Through Game 2 of the Finals, Dylan Holloway has three goals in 20 games, Ryan McLeod has one through 19, Warren Foegele has one through 17, and Corey Perry has yet to find the back of the net in 14 games.
“I think you look at our top guys, and I think they’re carrying their weight — Leon, Connor, Zach, Nuggy,” said Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch Thursday morning. “We need some help throughout the lineup.
“Florida is obviously getting some scoring from their depth players and we have a lot of good quality players in our depth positions that have not been producing offensively as much as they have in the regular season. I think there’s more that they can give, and in the playoffs, obviously it gets tougher to score. Scoring is down, but I think we got outstanding players at those positions and they can help us.”
Knoblauch offered no hints as to what the Oilers lineup would look like and an optional skate Thursday didn’t draw much more to glean.
Despite that, during Wednesday’s practice, McLeod was elevated to the Oilers’ second line alongside Leon Draisaitl and Holloway.
“It’s obviously tight out there, teams are checking hard and their D are playing well, their goalie is playing well,” said Holloway. “I think the big thing is just kind of crash the net, get as many pucks on net, and hopefully one trickles in.
“You can’t let the confidence get away. You just got to keep shooting, keep playing confident and try to make plays.”
One player who has helped Holloway along the way in these playoffs has been his new linemate, Leon Draisaitl.
“One of the biggest things he’s told me is that it’s tight out there, but you actually have more time than you think,” said Holloway, who later added he has family, including his parents, aunts and uncles in town. “If you just hold onto it for a split-second more, things start to open up.
“It’s kind of natural to get the puck, see a guy coming and try and get rid of it, but if you hold that extra second, extra half a second, usually things open up. That’s one thing he’s so good at, getting the puck and looking up and no matter who is on him, or how much chaos is going on, he always seems to make a play.
“That’s been a big thing he’s been trying to help me with.”
When it comes to Holloway’s game, Draisaitl said he’s seen evolution since the start of the regular season.
“I think he’s been great, I think he’s taken big steps, especially these playoffs,” he said. “He’s had some really, really good games.
“It’s a great experience for a young kid to go through these moments, these high-pressure moments and he’s handled it really, really well. He’s a very mature kid and I think there’s a lot more potential and a lot more for him to get to.”

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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