Image: Matthew Lee Lotshaw @UnderdogGraphix
Who: Florida Panthers (17-17-7, 41 points) at Edmonton Oilers (20-20-3, 43 points)
What: Hockey Night in Canada
Where: Rogers Place, Edmonton, AB, CA
When: January 10, 2019 9:00PM EST
Why: It’s too cold there not be moving a lot
Unpredictable yet You’ve seen it Before
You know the ship is veering off-course when your leading scorer gets a seat on the bench.
And stays there.
To predict which Panthers team to expect night in and night out is a game of chance. You could get the high-flying power play which exudes skill and confidence.
Or you get the unfocused group and watch them allow the league leading ninth shorthanded goal of the year.
Preceded by the eighth such instance in the same period.
Bob Boughner finally saw enough Tuesday when he benched Jonathan Huberdeau, Mike Hoffman, and Keith Yandle after their unit allowed those two shorthanded goals against Pittsburgh. At the time the Panthers were only down 2-0, however the monumental mental lapses quickly derailed any hopes of a comeback.
Florida enters the game Thursday losers of three in a row, winless in 2019. This is the second game of a crucial five game road trip. It’s now or never for the Cats.
Edmonton in a Similar Boat
The Oilers meanwhile are in a similar situation to that of the Panthers. Like Florida, Edmonton is hovering at .500 and under duress after a 7-2 waxing against the San Jose Sharks Tuesday night. Edmonton has lost eight of ten games overall but look to make a run with six of their next seven games at home.
Connor McDavid is a superstar at age 21, he is fifth in the NHL with 63 points. He is joined by Leon Draisaitl (23 goals, 29 assists – 52 points) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (14 goals, 25 assists – 39 points) to make up their top three scorers. All three centers are 25 or younger, this could be an exciting team very soon.
In goal for Edmonton will likely be Mikko Koskinen (12-8-1, 2.72 GAA, .913 SV%).
Power Play Means you Score Goals, not Them!
As alluded to the Panthers power play has been very generous to the opposition. This must stop. Shaky defense on multiple levels has left the goaltenders on an island. Fundamentals must be reinforced and as we’ve seen, Boughner is not afraid to make an example of anyone.
Whether it is Roberto Luongo (8-9-1, 3.37 GAA, .892 SV%) or James Reimer (8-7-4, 3.18 GAA, .896 SV%) in net it should not matter. Statistically there is little difference between the two, and Reimer has played much better of late. Perhaps it is time for him to carry some of the workload to spell the 39 year-old Luongo.
Check back for a full recap of the game.
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