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Oilers made too many mistakes against a very good Panthers team

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baggedmilk
1 month ago
We’re really in trouble now, aren’t we, friends? Last night, the Edmonton Oilers played another mostly solid hockey game, but once again, they made too many costly errors against a Florida Panthers team that always makes you pay for them. Final score: 4-3

POOR PUCK MANAGEMENT

When I think about the Panthers’ first three goals by Sam Reinhart, Vlad Tarasenko, and Sam Bennett, what sticks out most is how the Oilers had the chance to make a safer play shortly before all three of those pucks wound up in the net. Whether it was Bouchard trying to dangle at the blue line when he was the last man back, Ceci being outbattled by Tkachuk for a loose puck, or Darnell Nurse flipping a backhand pass to no one in particular, all three of those plays were completely avoidable. I’m not saying that playing against the Panthers is easy, but I am saying that some of the breakdowns we saw last night should happen in October and not in the middle of June.

THE POWER PLAY STRUGGLES CONTINUE

I don’t know that I would have believed you if you had told me that the Oilers’ power play would be 0/10 after three games before this Stanley Cup Final began, but that’s where we’re at this morning, and it’s a big problem. That’s not to say that they haven’t produced chances — they certainly have — but no one cares about silver linings in the Stanley Cup Final. If we have any hope at all to make this series interesting, the power play will have to find a way to execute. The chances are coming, but we really need that final push over the line.

NO GOALS FROM THE TOP GUYS AGAIN

If the power play’s lack of scoring is surprising, then having no goals from the entire top six blows my mind out of the back of my skull. Never in a million years would I have expected that all of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Zach Hyman, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Evan Bouchard would be held goalless through the first three games of this series. Of the four goals the Oilers have scored, two of them have come from defencemen and two of them have come from depth players that you always hope can chip in but maybe don’t expect to regularly. That needs to be better in the SCF, and we NEED some production from the big dawgs if there’s going to be even a glimmer of hope.

STUART SKINNER OUTDUELED AGAIN

I’m not going to sit here and pile on Stuart Skinner — enough people are doing that already — but it’s hard not to notice that his high water mark for save% in the Stanley Cup finals is currently the .893 he posted in Game 2. No, not all of the nine goals he’s allowed in this series have been his fault — Gord knows there have been some egregious errors by the skaters in front of him — but when the guy at the other end is standing on his head night-in-night-out, you have to find a way to cover up some of those mistakes. Stu hasn’t been able to do that through the three games played so far, whereas Bobrovsky has. That’s a big difference.

OTHER THINGS WORTH MENTIONING

-If I’m going to hand out a few positives in this article, then I have to give some love to Philip Broberg. Ever since drawing into the lineup, Broberg has played well, and that gives me plenty of hope that he’ll be able to keep getting better next season and beyond. Not only did he score in Game 3, but he was one of only two defencemen with a +1 rating on the night despite playing the fourth-most minutes on the back end.
-After getting kicked out of Game 2 on a horrible kneeing call in Florida, Warren Foegele made amends with a breakaway goal early in the second period to tie the game at one apiece. That goal was the first scored by a forward in this series and was one that brought some life back into the building. We needed Warren Foegele to step up in the SCF, and I thought last night was easily the best game he’s had in a while.
-He didn’t score and he didn’t get an assist, but there were no doubts about how hard Connor Brown was working last night. He was all over the puck in his 14:03 of TOI, and I wish more guys played with that same level of relentlessness.
-Edmonton did a much better job of creating chaos around Sergei Bobrovsky last night, and if there was ever a formula to start being him, it has to be getting more bodies in his kitchen around the crease. Both the Broberg goal and the McLeod goal came with all kinds of traffic around the net, and that’s something we’ll need a whole lot more of if we’re going to avoid the brooms coming out on Saturday.
-The NHL site had the giveaways listed as 10 for the Oilers and four for the Panthers, but that number is too light from an Edmonton perspective, specifically on the breakout. There were too many instances of passes being nothing more than hopes and prayers that were easily intercepted by a Panthers group that was content to sit back and wait. That clogs the middle of the ice so damned well that we need a better plan than just ripping pucks up the ice and hoping it works.
-Make it the third straight game in a row where the Oilers could not win the majority of the faceoffs, capturing only 47.5% of the draws in Game 3.

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