The Florida Panthers continue to add to their current point-streak, extending it to eight games as they toppled the Edmonton Oilers 6-2 on Sunday in a matinee affair. Florida won in convincing fashion in this game, with netminder Sergei Bobrovsky only being forced to deal with a handful of high-danger chances, unlike in Calgary where he had more than one could count. The Panthers controlled the pace of play through much of the contest, and really played a complete puck possession effort, something we hear from the players and coaches alike on a constant basis.
After a scoreless first with several quality chances for the Cats, including a near-miss on the power play, the Panthers would pour in three goals in three shots against Oilers goalie Mike Smith, who was promptly pulled by Oilers head coach Dave Tippett. That meant backup Mikko Koskinen manned the blue paint for Edmonton, and surrendered an additional two goals, first to Evgenii Dadonov and later to Jayce Hawryluk after Frank Vatrano’s empty net goal made it 5-2. The Panthers did let the score get to within two goals as both James Neal and Leon Draisaitl would score in the third, but the Cats never really let the Oilers keep the momentum for long.
This was probably one of the best efforts for the Panthers this season in regards to puck possession and managing the threats of the opposition. Head coach Joel Quenneville has to be pretty happy tonight after watching his team’s tenacity on the puck carrier and constant team support when the Panthers did have possession. There were some stretches during this tilt where Florida pinned the Oilers in their own zone for upwards of a minute or two, and that’s encouraging to see against one of the top teams in the NHL right now.
The Panthers will hit Canada’s west coast for tonight’s game against the Vancouver Canucks, who blew a 5-1 lead to Washington in its last game, before they return to the States to finish off the four-game road trip in Denver on Wednesday.
Head over to Copper and Blue to get the northern take, and tune in tomorrow night for LBC’s GameThread as the Cats take on the Canucks at 10 PM EST. Bring your coffee.
- Hawryluk had a noticeable game against the Oilers, hitting everything in sight and scoring a late garbage goal off a really nice wrister. If he wants to stay in the lineup, he needs to continue to be the spark plug he’s been for the Cats, although his time looks limited with Vincent Trocheck likely to return soon. Still, it’s good to know the Panthers can call on Howie Hustle to provide energy to the lineup when needed.
- Another game, another apple for Aleksander Barkov. It’s true he still doesn’t look as dominant as last season, but at this pace he’s going to have well over 70 points this season... and that’s if he doesn’t score any goals. He has looked a bit, well, healthier as of late though, with a bit more jump in his step and a bit more zip on his shots. Let’s hope he keeps healing through whatever nagging injury he has and gets back to 100% soon.
- Bobrovsky looked very sharp against the Oilers, something the Panthers need more of from him. He’s traditionally been a slow starter but his numbers (3.88 GAA, .869 SV%) through eight games are putrid. If the Panthers hope to be a force game in and game out, he’s going to have to be a big reason for that.
- Noel Acciari scored yet again, his fourth this season. He had all of six goals last season in 72 games. It’s not expected for Acciari to score often, yet he’s on pace to score 20+ this season. He’s not just scoring garbage goals either; two of his tallies came off pretty excellent shots and he’s generating more scoring chances for his linemates. If the Panthers can get him wingers that don’t have Minecraft blocks for hands, that 4th line would likely have a much larger portion of the team’s overall scoring. That kind of scoring depth is something Florida missed last season.
- Edmonton doesn’t look like a team that should sit at the top of the Western Conference. Goaltending looks to be an issue, and outside of the dynamic duo of Connor McDavid and Draisaitl, the Oilers look like the Panthers from last season: an extremely dangerous top line supported by very little in the way of secondary scoring and solid defense. Maybe the Panthers just caught them on an off day, or maybe they’re not as good as their record indicates.
- Brian Boyle scored his first as a Panther, collecting a loose puck and waiting out Smith to roof it upstairs. Great to see Boyle contributing already as he continues to get acclimated. Quenneville is going to enjoy having this guy in the lineup as the season rolls on.
- Mackenzie Weegar had another brilliant game. That is all. Rejoice.