They're getting smarter. The Edmonton Oilers made a crucial mistake two weeks ago when a blown two-goal lead in the third period forced overtime in a game they'd eventually win, but they knew exactly what to do tonight as they faced the same scenario. Edmonton didn't fall asleep and allow Florida to come back into the game, and with a two-goal lead in the third period they limited the Panthers' chances and shut the door. If teams who fell into the third period trap learn their lesson playing the Panthers in the next go 'round, Florida will need to find a new trick.
Horachek's team is making strides in the right direction, but tonight's game wasn't a good example of that. Discipline was the big killer tonight for Florida, Edmonton only went 2-for-5 but took full control of the momentum with each call. I've noticed the Panthers have been getting into the zone easier over the last few games, but tonight it was clear they've been entering along the perimeter and staying there. If the Panthers want to put pressure on the opposing goalie, someone needs to break into the zone where it makes defender's jobs difficult, not easy. Tomorrow is another chance at two points, but I sure hope they have a practice in the morning.
- Tom Gilbert has earned a fair amount of assists by virtue of being paired with Brian Campbell, but he's still playing very shaky. With Mike Mottau earning a spot and Weaver healthy once again, it's time to send Gilbert the way of Whitney. That is, if Dale can admit defeat and swallow his pride.
- As the Vancouver TV guys noted on Tuesday, Thomas may still be a good goalie; but he doesn't have the same group of puck clearing defensemen in front of him to limit chances. This was very obvious in the first period, when the Oilers had several great second and third chances down low. Playing with fire.
- Despite it not mounting to anything of note, Florida's power play unit sure was smooth getting into the offensive zone.
- Tomas Kopecky would be injured in the first period after a spill, and Harvey suggested that it might be his wrist which has been bothering him this season. Kopecky has his first two goals in his last 3 games, but even so I don't see it being a major loss if he's only out for a few contests. Jesse Winchester would also finish the game injured.
- A total team breakdown would allow for Nail Yakupov to sling a pass to streaking Sam Gagner for his first of the year. The forwards need to help out the defense, and the top line of Flash-Bjugs-Hubs is unclear of the existence of backchecking.
- Circling back to my first point, smart move to scratch the Panthers leading penalty killer on a night in which Florida had no discipline.
- Upshall has been working hard with the A on his chest, and he'd bank a shot between Devan Dubnyk and the goal post for his 3rd goal against Edmonton. Good to see one of Florida's overpaid, oft-injured players not sit back on a lawnchair and let the season pass by unnoticed.
- Flash has been getting a lot of criticism lately for not contributing on the scoresheet, but when you're playing with two young players someone has to take a step back and even the playing field for the young ones. Huberdeau and Bjugstad are good, but they're not generating all of their offense out of nowhere. Then comes the suggestion of trading Flash, but there will simply never be a good time to trade your only player who vaguely resembles a first liner when your GM can only downgrade.
- The Oilers rank high in blocked shots, but if the Cats want to play comeback hockey they need to get some shots through. Too many players are content to shoot from low percentage areas instead of making a pass around the boards or a move to get open.
- Check out The Copper & Blue for the Edmonton view.
Up Next: The road trip winds down and the start times get earlier as the Panthers head a few hours south to the city of Calgary where the Flames await. Puck drops tomorrow at 9pm.