NHL Hockey: Florida Panthers at Edmonton Oilers

After missing the Stanley Cup playoffs 12 times in the past 13 years things are starting to look up in Edmonton. A new GM, a new head coach and apparently a newfound attitude has done wonders for the Oilers and they finally look to have a competitive team built around Connor McDavid. They’ll go for their 8th win in 11 games on Sunday as they host Joel Quenneville and the Florida Panthers.

Florida has started slowly–not necessarily a surprise for a team with new personnel and a new head coach. It also appears that the off season’s big free agent acquisition–goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky–is also taking some time to round into form. Florida is 4-2-4 for 12 points in the early going though they’ve lost 3 games via shootout. Bobrovsky will get the start here and he’s 3-2-3 in his first 8 starts with a 3.87 goals against average and a 0.869 save percentage. He had a tendency to start slowly during his time in Columbus so there’s nothing really to be alarmed about.

The Panthers are scoring goals and in the past they’ve sputtered offensively at times. They’re #8 on the team offense table with 3.40 goals per game. The problem is that they’re #28 on the goals against per game hit parade allowing 3.60 goals per contest. The power play has been middling at #17 hitting on 18.8% of man advantage opportunities. The penalty kill has been decent ranking #8 in the NHL at 84.6%. Florida is doing some things very well but need to find some balance in other phases of the game.

Edmonton has all of a sudden become a nasty defensive team. They currently have the #4 team defense in hockey allowing 2.36 goals per game. They’re scoring 3.09 goals per game which is just #16 on the team offense table but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing–they’re playing a more disciplined and systematic brand of hockey and they’re winning with it. Special teams have been outstanding–Oilers have the #2 power play in the NHL (33.3%) and the #6 penalty kill (86.1%). Mike Smith will get the start in net here and he’s looked sharp so far this season with a 3-2-1 record along with a 2.15 goals against average and 0.925 save percentage.

Oilers still not getting much respect in the betting marketplace as evidenced by the NHL hockey odds on this game. Edmonton is undefeated at Rogers Place this season at 5-0-0 and are a perfect 6-0 against the Eastern Conference. Even during the ‘lean years’ they’ve had Florida’s number and are on a 19-9-2 run against the Panthers overall and a 9-4-1 run on home ice.


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