Stanley Cup Finals Preview: Edmonton Oilers vs. Florida Panthers Game 2 | 06/10/2024

Photo via NHL.com

Playoff luck giveth, and Playoff luck taketh away.

As Connor McDavid put it, “Maybe it was the Hockey Gods getting us back for that Game 6.” You can be disappointed that his team didn’t open the Finals with a win, but you can’t be disappointed with how they played, aside from a couple of instances. Sergei Bobrovsky did for the Panthers in this series opener what Stuart Skinner did for the Oilers to end Round 3. The shot clock heavily favored Edmonton, but they just couldn’t buy a goal. I expected both teams to look rusty from having that week off, as well as for the Oilers to look a bit nervous about most of their players playing in their first Cup Final game. Neither of those things happened, it was fast paced from the start on both ends.

Cody Ceci and Darnell Nurse weren’t the sole reason their team lost, but being on the ice for two goals against doesn’t help their case. Both the analytics and eye test mutually agree that pairing just doesn’t work well, and it hasn’t for a long time. For a coach who doesn’t like to change a winning lineup, reuniting those two is the first mistake he’s made in this postseason; he is human. Fans were surprised not to see the pairings that won them Games 4, 5, and 6 against the Dallas Stars. The first game of a series, win or lose, is always an indicator of what you should probably do differently after you’ve learned from your opponents. I’d see about putting Vincent Desharnais back in tonight on the third pairing. If he doesn’t draw back in, go back to what was successful in the Dallas series.

After Evan Bouchard and Mattias Ekholm, Philip Broberg has been Edmonton’s third-best defenseman in these Playoffs. He has good skating, is good physical, makes good passes, and played his 17:55 of ice time on his offside. For a team looking to find consistent second and third pairings that they can keep intact, the play of this 22-year-old is a welcome sign. I wouldn’t elevate him too much, though. Let him develop comfortably in a tense time as he eases into his current role.

If you’re the road team, it’s always a Playoff cliche to at least go back home with a split. That’s what’s on the table for Edmonton tonight. The keys to the game are…

High Shots: The two saves on breakaways by Bobrovsky were very impressive. But both Adam Henrique and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins tried the same move, with Nuge being closer to going five hole. This goalie covers the bottom of the net extremely well. The Oilers need to aim their shots between the top and the middle. Also, create a screen in front and block his vision. If a good goalie can’t see it, he won’t stop it.

Forward Defense: I know I picked on Nurse and Ceci a couple of paragraphs ago, I still stand by that criticism. But at the same time, the forwards who were also on the ice for those first two goals by Florida were either caught off guard by a pass leading to a rush, or they stopped skating while still having a decent chance to catch the eventual goal scorer. They need to stay aware of upcoming situations without the puck and help their blueliners on the backcheck.

A Game Later: The Oilers have developed a positive mentality that even after a tough loss, they know how to bounce back the next game. I don’t blame Skinner for the goals he allowed, but should look better on the stat sheet and perhaps not allow a goal too early or on the first shot again. You also can’t imagine this team’s offense getting shut out in two consecutive games.

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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