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Oilers played well in Game 1 but it’s tough to win when you don’t score

Amerent Airlines Arena Game 1 Warm Ups
Photo credit:Baggedmilk
baggedmilk
1 month ago
When I woke up this morning in Florida to write this article, I had a hard time deciding whether I was mad about last night’s loss. Dropping Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final is obviously bad, but I also think the Oilers played well. So, what do we make of this? That’s the tricky part to figure out.

SERGEI BOBROVSKY STEALS THE NIGHT

How could I not start this post-game article with anyone else but Sergei Bobrovsky? On a night when the Oilers basically outshot the Panthers 2:1, goalie Bob shut the door and gave up nothing. There were breakaways, power play chances, and all kinds of chaos around Florida’s net, but no matter the test, the goaltender was there to cover up the mistakes. Simply put, Bobrovsky was excellent.
If the Oilers are going to tie this series up tomorrow night in Game 2, they’ll need to do a better job of getting more bodies in the crease. There were too many moments when Bobrovsky had a clean look at what was coming his way, and with the way he’s dialled in, if he can see the puck, he’s going to stop it. The Oilers also need to try and get more pucks upstairs because he was putting on a masterclass and locking down the bottom of the net, including the breakaway saves he made on Henrique and Nugent-Hopkins.

WE NEEDED THE POWER PLAY TO COME THROUGH

The Oilers got three cracks at the power play in Game 1, and unfortunately, they couldn’t get the job done on any of them. That’s not to say that they didn’t have their chances — they did — but it was almost like they were trying to figure out the puzzle more so than attack the net. That’s not to say that there weren’t chances to score, but there was undoubtedly a feeling out process that had the Oilers doing a lot of passing around the perimeter as they searched for lanes.
Now, I’m not dumb enough to think I have anything to offer the Oilers on how they should adjust on the PP, but I would say that getting pucks into the crease with traffic would probably help. I know no doubts that the Oilers will be able to adjust and get something done with the man advantage, but it absolutely sucks that they weren’t able to cash anything in on the three chances they did have. Part of the process, I suppose.

THE 4TH LINE WAS SOLID

When I first looked at the line combos for last night’s game, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Janmark, Henrique, and Brown trio, but I thought they were excellent. Despite not playing as many minutes as the big boys, that line was very effective at even strength. They had the breakaway chance, the disallowed goal, and plenty of other opportunities that could have resulted in something awesome. If this trio can keep playing the way they did last night, then I don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest they could be a factor.

ARE LINEUP CHANGES COMING?

Is Kris Knoblauch going to tweak the lines ahead of Game 2. Again, the Oilers played very well for the most part, but there were a couple of guys that needed to be better, specifically Warren Foegele and Corey Perry. I guess I was expecting more from both of them. Warren Foegele lost his spot after Game 3 against Dallas, and I thought he would be a lot more fired up to get back in there. Yet, in the 10:23 he played, there were too many times when the plays died on his stick. Yeah, the three shots were nice, but overall, his impact was minimal. When it comes to Corey Perry, I know he’s not the guy who scored 50 goals and won the Hart Trophy anymore, but I was hoping he’d be able to elevate his play in the playoffs. I’m not saying he was terrible, but I am saying he was way too quiet when we needed him to make some noise.

COSTLY MISTAKES WERE THE DIFFERENCE

One of the most frustrating parts of Game 1 was that the Oilers played as well as they did but that the big mistakes they made wound up in the back of the net. On the first goal, a missed assignment led to the odd-man rush that the Panthers executed perfectly. On the second goal, I have no idea how Evan Rodrigues was left so wide open in front of the net with enough time to make a sandwich. Digging through Twitter, I noticed that a bunch of people were upset that Skinner wasn’t able to stop those shots, but I didn’t see how those goals were on him. From my spot in the stands, those were clear defensive misses that cannot happen against a team as good as the Panthers, and if the Oilers are going even up the series, they’ll need to be much tighter with their puck management.

GET MORE BODIES TO THE NET

In the Bobrovsky section of this post, I wrote about how he’s stopping everything he can see right now. To me, that means the Oilers need to do a better job of crashing the net. They need to get more bodies in his kitchen to a) limit his ability to see the puck and b) cash in the garbage just in case he gives up a rebound. Bobrovsky made a lot of clean saves last night, so on the odd chance there is a loose puck lying around, the Oilers need to have more guys funnelling to that area of the ice. The Panthers had too easy of a time clearing out the crease, and that’s a minor detail where our boys will need to make an adjustment.

OTHER THINGS WORTH MENTIONING…

-I know no one wants to hear it, but Stuart Skinner wasn’t the issue last night even though he finished with an .882 save%. The two goals he allowed were Grade-A chances that were the result of missed assignments, and while it would have been great to get a save, it’s hard for me to complain much about what he did allow.
-Edmonton’s penalty kill was perfect again last night on both shorthanded situations, reaching 30 straight kills in the playoffs. That’s a level that I’ve never seen or expected from the Oilers, and it really has been a pleasure to watch them be as effective at 5v4 as they have been.
-I wonder how much the boys are going to talk about elevating the puck against Bobrovsky? That guy covers the bottom of the net so well that it’s almost impossible to sneak something through his legs, and the ticket might have to be to looking bar down. Obviously, that’s easier said than done, but it was impossible to not notice how effective he was down low.
-The Oilers got caved in on the faceoff dot last night, winning only 40.4% of the draws. Even though losing faceoffs isn’t the reason Edmonton lost the game, starting plays with possession is going to be big going forward.

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