The surging Florida Panthers will take on the bewildered Edmonton Oilers tonight in South Florida.
The Oilers, with all the talent of guys like McDavid, Draisaitl, etc., find themselves in a tailspin to start the 2023-24 season. Hampered by poor goaltending a defense, Edmonton recently fired their head coach in an attempt to plug the (oil) leak.
As detailed by Jameson Olive here
“Stumbling out of the gate, the Oilers are currently in seventh place in the Pacific Division with a record of 5-10-1. Despite having two of the top offensive talents in the NHL in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton ranks just 21st in the NHL with an average of 2.94 goals per game.
That being said, the team’s 30th-ranked defense has likely been the bigger issue.
After enduring a four-game losing streak, the Oilers won three straight games before suffering a 6-4 loss at Tampa Bay on Saturday. Leading 3-2 heading into the third period, Edmonton gave up four goals in the third period, with three of them coming within the first 11 minutes.
Draisaitl leads the Oilers in scoring with 21 points (six goals, 15 assists), while Zach Hyman has scored the most goals (8). Off to an uncharacteristically slow start, McDavid, who won the Hart Trophy with an eye-popping 153 points last season, has registered just 13 points in 14 games.“
That Cats definitely had a boost in Anaheim getting Montour and Ekblad back on the blueline. But as one door opens, another seemingly shuts - for a bit at least. After taking a knee-on-knee collision, Alexander Barkov has been ruled out for tonight’s matchup. He will continue to be day-to-day.
The projected lineup is as follows:
Carter Verhaeghe – Anton Lundell – Sam Reinhart
Evan Rodrigues – Sam Bennett – Matthew Tkachuk
Eetu Luostarinen – Kevin Stenlund – Nick Cousins
Jonah Gadjovich – Steven Lorentz – Ryan Lomberg
Gustav Forsling – Aaron Ekblad
Niko Mikkola - Brandon Montour
Oliver-Ekman Larsson – Dmitry Kulikov
I expect Bob to get the nod tonight, but Stolarz looked excellent in his start/win against his former Ducks team.
Despite their struggles, the Cats should not take this Oilers team lightly. They have speed and talent that can be released at any moment. Take the game to them on the forecheck and don’t let them get into a rhythm.
Let’s get it done tonight. Go Panthers!