Everyone is tired of talking. Players, coaches, fans, and media. Heck the microphones are likely sick of it. Because nine games were postponed the Edmonton Oilers have only played six games in the past 32 days. They didn’t win any. They went 0-4-2 and there isn’t much joy in Oilerville.
Usually an 0-4-2 skid spans over 11 or 12 days, and while it is frustrating and irritating it pales in comparison to a 32-day stretch that leads to, frankly, some pissyness. We should thank Jim Matheson and Leon Draisaitl for a one-day distraction.
But now the focus returns to the ice, and the Oilers are in dire need of a victory. As much for their psyche as their place in the standings.
Edmonton is 7th in the Pacific division with 38 points, but that is a bit deceiving due to only playing 35 games. Their points% has them ahead of Anaheim and Vancouver and very close to LA and San Jose. Edmonton and Calgary have four games in hand on Vancouver, five on LA, Vegas and San Jose and seven on Anaheim.
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However, games in hand when they are crammed into a short window aren’t nearly as valuable, which is why I look at P%. Edmonton doesn’t have to play great to move up the standings, but they do need to start winning. Now.
Winning is contagious, but so is losing and the Oilers’ third-period collapse against Ottawa was a prime example of how fragile this team is right now. They were unable to stop the bleeding in the third period.
No one is going to help the Oilers out of this funk. They have to stick together and work their way out of it as a team. It won’t be easy, and while Florida has struggled on the road (5-5-5), they are still one of the best teams in the NHL. They are capable of crushing a team on any given night.
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The Panthers have won 26 games. They have scored 4+ goals in 22 of them. In those 22 wins alone they have won seven games by three goals, won by four twice, a five-goal bulge once, six goals twice and won by seven goals in another game.
When they win, they often score a lot and win by a bunch. They’ve had 13 victories by three or more goals. When they get a lead they don’t sit back, at least on home ice. The road Panthers are a different group, and haven’t found the same energy and intensity away from home.
The Oilers must set the tone early tonight. They can’t play catchup. Again. I’m sure you’re tired of reading the stat, but Edmonton has allowed the first goal in 22 of its previous 26 games. Florida hasn’t won a game on the road this season when allowing the first goal. However, they have scored first in nine of their 15 road games. They are 5-2-2 in those games.
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Sure, Edmonton could win even if they allow the first goal, but would you be willing to bet on that at this point? I doubt it.
Edmonton needs a good start if they hope to make the pain stop.

LINEUPS…

Oilers

Perlini – McDavid – Yamamoto
Foegele – Draisaitl – Puljujarvi
Benson – McLeod – Kassian
Shore – Ryan – Sceviour
Nurse – Ceci
Keith – Barrie
Russell – Bouchard
Koskinen
@Zach Hyman is waiting another test result, but sounds like he could be out tonight due to COVID. Brendan Perlini is cleared to play after getting injured late on Tuesday. He and Warren Foegele will be the top-six left wingers if Hyman can’t play. Kris Russell will play his first game since December 9th. Edmonton has missed his shot blocking prowess, especially on the penalty kill which has floundered the past six weeks.
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@Mikko Koskinen gets the start. He hasn’t gotten much goal support in his previous six starts, but he’s also allowed 24 goals. He is looking for his first win since December 1st, while the Oilers are looking for their first win since December 18th.
In this six-game funk the Oilers have scored enough to win. They have 16 goals and 15 have come at 5×5. They are scoring enough at 5×5, but they’ve allowed 15 goals. Here is a quick breakdown of their individual 5×5 GF-GA.
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Forwards    GF-GA              Defence       GF-GA
Shore          4-0                   Keith            10-3
Perlini         2-0                    Ceci              6-3
McDavid     4-2                   Barrie            3-3
McLeod      4-2                   Nurse            2-3
Turris          2-1                   Koekkoek      2-3
Yamamoto 7-7                   Bouchard       5-9
Sceviour     3-3                  Lagesson        2-4
RNH           3-3
Benson       1-1
Draisaitl      5-7
Foegele      4-6
Puljujarvi    2-3
Hyman       3-5
Ryan          1-4
Kassian      0-1
Their 5×5 goals against and their special teams has crushed them the past six games. Their penalty kill has allowed seven power play goals on 18 chances and have been on the PK for 24:49. Their powerplay has only scored once on eight chances. They had a total of 12:43 in PP time. They need to draw more penalties, but also be better on the PK.
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Panthers

Verhaeghe – Barkov – Reinhart
Huberdeau – Bennett – Duclair
Tippett – Lundell – Marchment
Lomberg – Luostarinen – Mamin
Weeger – Ekblad
Carlsson – Gudas
Juolevi – Montour
Bobrovsky
Gustav Forsling was placed in COVID protocol and won’t play for the Panthers. He plays over 21 minutes a night on their blueline. Patrick Hornqvist and Frank Vatrano are also coming out while Owen Tippett and Maxim Mamin draw in at forward and Lucas Carlsson will play defence.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: This could also be the NSOGDP, but I think the pain ends tonight. Oilers win 4-3.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: McDavid gets two points. He is averaging two points/game v. the Panthers in his career.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Devin Shore scores his third goal of the season.

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