Florida Panthers vs. Edmonton Oilers Game 1 Recap | 06/09/2024

Bobrovsky under the spotlight during Game 1 intros. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Redemption is now only three wins away for the Panthers. Florida got off on the right foot to take the Game 1 win although, to the average watcher, it didn’t look like a game the Cats should win. They got a taste of their own medicine and spent a good chunk of the time in their own zone, but the defense and Bobrovsky were up to the challenge of handling McDavid and co. Power play goals are likely going to be difficult to come by as the two best penalty kills in the playoffs are facing off against each other. The Panthers didn’t see a lot of action in the offensive zone tonight, but they capitalized on the chances that they did have. Verhaeghe got the game-winner with the opening goal of the Finals just under four minutes into the game, Rodrigues extended the lead to two early in the second period, and Luostarinen put the game away with an empty netter in the dying seconds. Bobrovsky was an unsolvable puzzle for the Oilers, and he posed a 32-shot shutout and became the oldest goaltender ever to open up the finals with a shutout. This also marks back-to-back series openers that Bob shut out the opponent.

Florida’s Defense Went To Work:

The offense didn’t have much time in the offensive zone which has been a rarity for the Panthers during the playoffs. That meant that it was all on the Cats’ defense to get things done and frustrate the Oilers they did. With Bobrovsky doing his best brick wall impression, the defense went to work to block shots and keep Edmonton to the outside as much as possible. There wasn’t much that they gave up, and when something did open up, Bob was there to make the saves. It was an outstanding full-team effort from Florida to hold down the top offense of the Oilers, and the PK did its job as well, not allowing Edmonton to capitalize on the man advantage. The media has spent a lot of time this week talking about the Oilers’ penalty kill, which, while it’s been very impressive, it’s been overlooked how good Florida’s kill is as well. The Panthers have killed off 35 of their last 37 power plays. The Cats also did an excellent job of boxing out the Oilers and not allowing them chances at potential rebounded shots. With so much time spent in their own end, Florida blocked 21 shots in Game 1 to the Oilers’ 15. The Panthers were also the more physical team, with 63 hits to Edmonton’s 35, and while you can say that the hit disparity was due to Florida playing so much defense, that’s not entirely true. In Game 2 of the Boston series, the Panthers dominated o-zone time and still had 76 hits to the Bruins’ 70, hard and physical is just how Florida plays—the full team buy-in on the defense-first mentality paid off Saturday night. They’re absolutely relentless and only get better as the games go on.

Depth Scoring Continues:

The Panthers may not have four players with 20+ points, but they do have eight players in double-digit points, and Rodrigues is on the cusp of being in double digits. The dropoff in the Oilers’ roster is pretty significant, with a ten-point differential from Hyman, who has 18 points, to their next highest, Kane, who has eight points. The steady depth scoring of Florida has served them well and has meant that all the scoring pressure doesn’t rest on the top 6 forwards. The Panthers got goals from Verhaeghe on the top line, Rodrigues on the second line, and an empty netter from Luostarinen on the third line. That’s going to stress the Oilers’ defense as the series wears on because you can’t count on shutting down one line or even two. Verhaeghe tapped in a beautiful cross-ice pass from Barkov to give Florida the 1-0 lead in the first four minutes of the game. Rodrigues doubled up the lead, sniping in a great pass from Bennett, who was behind the goal, and then Luostarinen put away an empty netter in the dying seconds of the game to give the Cats the 3-0 win. Along with the depth scoring, Florida is a rare team that gets better the farther into a game they get. They were the best third period team during the regular season out-scoring their opponents by +36 and that trend has continued into the Playoffs, they’re the best third period team and are out-scoring their opponents by +13. Edmonton, on the other hand, is sitting at a -7 for the third period during the playoffs. The Panthers have worn down their opponents with their style of play and you could already see that starting to happen in the third period of Game 1 as Florida got more o-zone time and shots in the final twenty minutes of play.

Bobrovsky Makes History:

As good as Florida’s defense was, this game would’ve been lost if not for an outstanding performance from Sergei Bobrovsky. This was his busiest game of the playoffs, and he was locked in for the entire 60 minutes. You’d never know that he’d gone through long stretches of not seeing any action in previous series. Bob made three big stops on Oilers’ breakaway chances and was stellar during the penalty kill. As they say, your best penalty killer has to be your goalie, and Bob was that and so much more for the Panthers. He wrote himself into the history books as the oldest goaltender to start the Stanley Cup Final with a shutout and gave the Cats the first-ever franchise shutout in the Cup Final. He also tied Jeremy Swayman’s 3.35 GSAE to lead all goalies in the playoffs. If you’ve watched Florida play at all during the playoffs this type of performance isn’t out of the ordinary, he’s allowed 2 goals or less in 11 of his last 12 starts going all the way back to the Bruins series. Overall during the playoffs, he’s only allowed more than 2 goals in four total games, twice against the Lightning, once against the Bruins, and once against the Rangers. Should that trend continue, it’s fair to assume that at some point, the Oilers will score more than 2 goals this series, but that was not to be for Game 1. The shutout win gives Florida the 1-0 series lead, and now they’re just three wins away from raising the Stanley Cup. Game 2 is set for Monday, June 10th in Sunrise at 8 pm EST/7 pm CT.

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. We Got The Jack
  2. Episode 7. Player Safety First!
  3. Episode 6. Early Trade Season
  4. Episode 5. Longing For The Chiarelli Years
  5. Episode 4. Ottawa’s On Fire

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