The Florida Panthers and Edmonton Oilers were both looking to capture their first three game winning streaks of their respective seasons last night. The Oilers succeeded as they outplayed the Panthers en route to a 4-1 victory. You can read a recap from last night’s game here. Below are some thoughts from the loss:
Road Weary Panthers
There were a lot of factors that went into the Panthers loss but one that stood out was, the Panthers were playing their fourth game of a five game road trip that has them playing five games in eight days including two back-to-backs. The Oilers on the other hand were playing in the second of a three game home stand that spans 11 days.
The energy difference was evident from the drop of the puck. Edmonton came out flying while the Panthers looked like they had weights in their skates. The slow start led to an early Tom Gilbert penalty which then led to a Jordan Eberle power play goal just 57 seconds into the game.
Head coach Peter Horachek acknowledged that his team looked tired but he would not use heavy legs or the fact that the team was playing with a short bench (Both Tomas Kopecky (wrist) and Jesse Winchester (lower body) left the game with injuries) as an excuse.
“The key was the energy. We didn’t have any,” said Panthers coach Peter Horachek. “If we came out with energy and a workman-like attitude everything improves. You could see the work ethic wasn’t there, the legs weren’t there, the compete level wasn’t there. That made a struggle.”
The refs called a tight game last night and the result of a lot of power plays for both teams. The Oilers converted two out of five power play chances while the Panthers failed to convert any of their five opportunities. Those two power play goals for the Oilers proved to be the difference in the game.
I felt like Florida was getting hosed by the refs through the first two periods. The cross-checking call on Jimmy Hayes and the the hooking call on Brad Boyes were iffy at best. Things went the other way in the third period as the Panthers received three opportunities with the extra man but failed to make them count.
Tomas Kopecky (wrist) and Jesse Winchester (lower body) both left the game with injuries forcing the Panthers to essentially roll with three lines. The biggest beneficiary of the injuries was Shawn Matthias who received 18:29 of ice time well above his per game average of 13:05. If Kopecky and Winchester are both out tonight as is expected, we will probably see Scott Gomez and Sean Bergenheim inserted back into the lineup. If that is the case, I think Horachek will go with Barch-Gomez-Hayes on the fourth line and Bergenheim-Goc-Matthias on the third.
- Jonathan Huberdeau generally merits only positive comments for his play but last night, the Oilers second goal was partially a result of his lazy back checking. Nail Yakupov, the puck carrier, broke up the ice alongside Ales Hemsky with Sam Gagner trailing a bit behind the play. The Panthers seemed to have the play covered with Gilroy and Mottau picking up Yakupov and Hemsky and Huberdeau covering the trailing Gagner. Covering may be too strong a verb however, as Huberdeau gave Gagne a perfunctory poke or two with his stick before pulling into a glide allowing Gagner to skate uncovered to the front of the Panther net to receive and finish a pass from Nail Yakupov to put the Oilers up 2-0.
- Scottie Upshall was getting into it all game in front of the Oiler net. On numerous occasions he was involved in the pushing and shoving in front of Devan Dubnyk after play was whistled dead. His efforts paid off in the second when he was able to squeeze a puck past Dubnyk to give the Panthers their only goal of the night. Things boiled over in the third period when Upshall’s tenacious play provoked an Andrew Ference hooking penalty. Ference had more to say apparently as after the whistle was blown, the two got into a minor scrum and were both slapped with five minute majors for fighting.
- Speaking of penalties, Brian Campbell took a very un-Lady-Byng-like penalty in the third period. With both Campbell and David Perron going for the puck, Perron managed to give Campbell a jab to the gut with his stick. Campbell obviously not happy with Perron responded with a two handed slash, wind-up and everything. Despite spending two minutes in the box, Campbell managed to log an astounding 28:34 of ice time.