The Oilers have their backs against the wall after second straight loss in Florida

Amerent Bank Arena Game 2
Photo credit:Baggedmilk
1 month ago
So, that sucked. After opening the scoring on a first-shot goal by Mattias Ekholm to grab their first lead of the series, the Oilers struggled to gain much traction in a pivotal game that they couldn’t seem to catch up to. Final score: 4-1 Panthers


I’m starting with the penalties for this one, not because I want to get into the horrible officiating — both sides had terrible calls against, to be honest — but because it’s pretty damned hard to win a hockey game when you spend nearly an entire period in the penalty box. The Oilers were called for six penalties in Game 2, including a five-minute major to Warren Foegele for kneeing after he had played only 1:54 in TOI.
I know the PK had been perfect for a while now, but it was only a matter of time before they gave something up, and last night, the dam finally broke after 34 straight kills. Yet, at the same time, killing all of those penalties is great only to a point. Without any offence being generated at the other end, having the PK come through every time is like putting a band-aid on an open wound. Yeah, the referees were bad, but the boys still have to find a way to remain disciplined somehow.


The Edmonton Oilers were the highest-scoring team in the NHL playoffs coming into this series, but their offence has stalled in the worst way, as the team has registered only a single goal in 120 minutes of play. Yeah, you can say that Bobrovsky stole the show in Game 1 — he absolutely did — but the boys have to find a way to bear down and generate some chances.
According to Natural Stat Trick, the Oilers didn’t generate a single high-danger shot attempt at even strength in Game 2, and I don’t think I have to explain why that’s a bad thing. We can blame the refs all we want and point to the calls that should and should not have happened, but at the end of the day, you won’t win anything if you can’t score goals. And last night, the Panthers gave up nothing, and the Oilers didn’t do much to force the issue either.


Darnell Nurse took a hit from Evan Rodrigues in the first period, which clearly caused some damage to his shoulder or upper body somewhere. Despite refusing to leave the bench, Nurse was only able to play 4:20 in total TOI, which was a big loss for the Oilers’ defensive group. I know some folks aren’t fans of ol’ Darryl, but the reality is that losing him for any length of time will create a massive hole in the back end.
Of course, Nurse did play a handful of shifts after the Rodrigues hit but was clearly nowhere near his normal level of engagement or TOI. If he’s as hurt as his ice time suggests, what do the Oilers do with him? There comes a point where the line between being courageous blurs with being a liability, and if he’s only capable of playing 1/4 of his usual TOI, are we getting close to that point? It will be very interesting to see what happens in Game 3.


Only three teams in NHL history have come back from being down 2-0 in the Stanley Cup Final: The 1971 Montreal Canadiens, the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins, and the 2011 Boston Bruins. Needless to say, it doesn’t happen often. So, at this point, all we can do is raise the Hope Will Never Die flags and pray for help from the Hockey Gords.
Needless to say, if the Oilers are going to climb their way back into this series, they’re going to need everyone to ramp up their urgency levels by a factor of 10 or more. They have to get back to what worked in Game 1 — lack of goals aside — and push the pace with their own game instead of being sucked into Florida’s. The Panthers did way too good of a job dragging Edmonton into the mud last night, and that has to change in a real hurry.


-I never thought I’d write about Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl being held goalless through the first two games of this series, but that’s where we’re at. McDavid picked up an assist on Ekholm’s goal in the first period, but you have to give Florida credit for the way they’ve been able to keep that duo quiet. If the Oilers are going to become the fourth team in NHL history to climb out of this hole, we’re going to need these two to go supernova.
-The Oilers had only seven shots on goal through 40 minutes, and that isn’t even a $5 dollar cab ride from being good enough. Yeah, they spent a good chunk of that time in the penalty box and I totally understand that, but getting seven shots after two periods isn’t nearly enough against a goaltender who’s playing as well as Bobrovsky.
-We need to see some adjustments on the power play, don’t you think? Now at 0-for-7 on the series, the Oilers haven’t looked nearly as sharp on the PP and have struggled mightily to handle the Panthers’ aggressive PK approach. The Oilers have had the best power play in the league over the last five years, and they’ll need it to get going here before it’s too late.
-Give me a break with this, “Draisaitl should be suspended” nonsense. Was the hit a little bit high? Yeah, but only because Sasha Barkov was leaning forward and basically ran into his elbow. If that gets any supplemental discipline and Bennett’s knee on Bouchard doesn’t then this trash league doesn’t deserve to continue.
-Speaking of which, wasn’t it amazing how Luostarinen laid on the ice after the Foegele knee but then didn’t miss a shift afterward? Weird. Almost like he wasn’t actually hurt.
-Make it another night where the Oilers got stomped on the faceoff dot, winning only 45.6% of the draws they took. I know the math suggests that losing faceoffs doesn’t necessary equate to giving up goals all of the time, but I’d still rather start with the puck more often that not. Edmonton needs to find a way to dig in a little more on faceoffs.


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