Oilers Game 28: Florida Panthers

Lose one after winning eight, and a lot of people lose their minds again. You’ve just got to love Oilers Twitter. But there’s still nothing wrong with analyzing why Thursday night’s game sums up the entire Oilers season thus far. It was probably one of the more entertaining losses I’ve ever sat through. Edmonton was down 2-0 after the first period, then came back in the second period with three goals. Their shorthanded goal completely opened up their momentum swing, and they added two powerplay goals in succession. Even with Andrei Vasilevsky making save after save after save, Edmonton was confident they’d end up with the win at the end. But Lightning struck Stuart Skinner hard; he didn’t have his best game. Tampa responded with their own comeback in the third period to take the win.

The Oilers are now 1-6-1 when they get 40+ shots on goal; that is probably the most hilarious stat to record in any sport. Was it really a 7-4 game? No, the last two goals were empty netters. But it sums up most of Edmonton’s issues this season. Vasilevsky allowed four goals and still stole the game. That’s what an elite goalie can do for your team; they can get you a win even when you don’t deserve it. I said in my keys to the game that the Oilers needed to keep getting pucks on him and make his game uncomfortable. But you can’t ask for more than 57 shots. The Lightning didn’t play up to their standards in front of him, but he bailed them out. The issue is not that Edmonton doesn’t have a good goalie. Skinner is a good, young, homegrown goalie that they drafted. We sometimes forget that he’s still just in his second full NHL season. The issue is that they don’t have a good tandem.

Jack Campbell was supposed to help with that, but he instead became a $5M AHL goalie. It was very mature of Stu to take personal responsibility for the loss, but he doesn’t have as much time as other young goalies to learn from a bad game. He was the biggest reason the Oilers made the Playoffs last season (Yes, even bigger than McDavid) but was burnt out by the time Round 1 started. When I wrote up my preview for their game against Chicago, I gave the perspective that Calvin Pickard should’ve been the starter. Skinner was good in that game, but why not give him another break? Why play him against the worst team in the league? I’m not saying his bad game was because of fatigue, I just worry sometimes Edmonton might make the same mistake again. Pickard has been solid in the minutes he’s played. But is he the backup answer for the Oilers? I’m not sure he is. If he is, he should be trusted,

at least with easier games. When Vasilevsky was out, the Lightning still managed to get wins with Jonas Johansson. He wasn’t great, but he was good enough. You can’t win every game, but goaltending cost them this one. It’s easier to forgive a loss following an eight-game winning streak, but this was still a tough loss. All you can do is start another big winning streak. Don’t go into a slump that lasts the same number of games. The six-game homestand ends with another rematch against another tough opponent. The keys to the game are…

Keep Your Foot On The Gas: In both first meetings against both Florida teams, the Oilers built strong momentum and looked like they could get wins. But they let it slip away both times, blowing early two-goal leads and following it up with bad third periods. They let the third-period part happen again on Thursday night after coming back in the third period. Don’t let up; it’s not over until all 60 minutes have passed.

The Return Of OEL: Oliver Ekman-Larsson seems to be enjoying a decent bounce-back season after two lackluster ones. He’s on pace for close to 40 points and also averages one and a half minutes on the penalty kill. He’s really shone for them on the blue line, making up mightily as Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour missing the first 16 games of the season.

Play It Again Sam: The Panthers are also getting a career year out of soon-to-be UFA Sam Reinhart. He’s on pace for 104 points in a contract year. Playing him on the wing with Aleksander Barkov is similar to when the Oilers occasionally put Leon Draisaitl on Connor McDavid’s wing. They don’t ask how; they ask how many, and Reinhart has 37 of them. Even Strength, Powerplay, and penalty kill, he does it all.

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

Stephen Vani

Oilers fan in Toronto. Staying up past my bedtime for Western games since the mid 2000s.

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