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Analyzing the Edmonton Oilers Lineup Ahead of Game 4 vs the Florida Panthers

The Oilers have to figure it out. All along Head Coach Kris Knoblauch has been praised for having a great read on the pulse of the team. He has also done a wonderful job for the Oilers at handling the media, as per his answer on Evander Kane‘s Game 4 status against the Panthers. In contrast, this isn’t the regular season, and besides the fact Knoblauch still only has 69 games of career NHL regular season experience. Sidebar, it was an incredible 69-game run, with a 46-18-5 record good for a .703 win%. Moreover, this is the pros, and the Florida Panthers are excellent at playing fast and physically and very importantly, with accountability.

Any Guesses Ahead of Game 4 of the Oilers and Panthers

NHL Predictions: June 15 w/ Florida Panthers vs Edmonton Oilers

To Knoblauch’s credit, there have been a couple of great examples of him pushing the right buttons. Sitting down Stuart Skinner for a pair of games versus the Canucks, and allowing him to reset. Those two games, the more senior Calvin Pickard found his way between the pipes. Another great, more recent example was getting Philip Broberg into the lineup. In fact, Broberg scored a goal in the Game 3 loss. So, do we think there is any tricks up the Oilers’ coach’s sleeve tonight?

Stanley Cup Final Edmonton Oilers vs Florida Panthers Mid-Series Recap

What Will Tonight Bring for the Edmonton Oilers?

The fact of the matter remains for tonight’s Game 4 action, the Edmonton Oilers find themselves down three games to none in the 2024 NHL Stanley Cup Final series with the Florida Panthers. Credit to Knoblauch again, as the Oilers have remained hush regarding their lineup. Evander Kane’s status is the big one, but if we are going on the expected lines from practice, he will miss. Conversely, he didn’t skate at all on gameday before Game 2 and played. Moreover, Game 3 saw him being scratched not long before puck drop.

In terms of the rest of the lineup, someone needs to get going. Many of the Oilers top players have been shutout in the goal column thus far in the series. Kane along with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl, Zach Hyman, Evan Bouchard, and yes, Connor McDavid himself have combined for zero goals in the series to this point. However, we must give the captain a pass. He does only have five goals in the playoffs, to go along with his incredible 29 assists.

Furthermore, he does have three assists in the final. The most influential of those final series assists were the two from the third period of the last game. Whenever McDavid was on the ice, he was doing everything he could to not go down 3-0. As a team, the Oilers have controlled the pace of play at times throughout the series quite well. One example was that third-period last game, where they outscored Florida 2-0. Also, shots were only 6-5 in favour of the Oilers, therefore, they were able to shutdown any Panthers attack. Moreover, the Game 3 shot total was 35-23 for the Oilers, which had a similar feel to the Game 1 total of 32-18.

Looking at the Potential Lineup Changes or Similarities to Game 3 Impact

Two players that played in both of those games, but were coincidentally sat out for Game 2, were Corey Perry and Cody Ceci. For Perry, we have heard all the accolades. He is the current active NHL leader with 211 playoff games under his belt. Also, he was a 2007 Stanley Cup winner and has the claim to fame as the first NHLer in history to appear in the finals with five different teams. Needless to say, the Oilers need that ‘never back down’ presence in the lineup.

Additionally, Cody Ceci appears to be in tonight again. His Game 2 scratch was a bit of an anomaly for the defender who played 79 games in the regular season, averaging 20:01 a night, and tallying 25 points. Being a healthy scratch, or even not having a regular shift, is just something he’s not accustomed to having done. He is averaging 19:32 a night in this year’s playoffs, which is actually down from his career playoff average of 20:41. 

Who Appears to Be out Tonight for Edmonton

Again, sticking with the expected linemate, Derek Ryan is expected to draw in. That leaves Sam Carrick and Vincent Desharnais out. Carrick has only played 10 games this post-season, and only 9:15 of ice time in those games. So, to see him miss the elimination Game 4 between the Oilers and Panthers, wouldn’t be a huge surprise. Vinny Desharnais would be a bit more of a surprise. That is given the physical presence he can provide in the matchup game. However, his being out is more of a product of who do you replace? Ceci deserves to be in. Brett Kulak is too dependable.

We touched on Broberg, and you can’t take out a goal scorer. Lastly, would be Darnell Nurse, but even he has found a bit of a mean streak, seemingly giving the Panthers the extra shot whenever the opportunity so presents itself. He may get a bad rap from the fanbase at times, and probably deservingly so, but the fact remains he is still extremely talented, and if he’s playing his best, you need his abilities in the lineup. Whatever the issue from Game 2 was for Nurse, he did seem over it in Game 3. 

The last note, and a player who has been sat this post-season, but is expected to be in tonight is Warren Foegele. He was ejected early in Game 3 for kneeing. This especially compounded with the fact that Kane was out, but then adding Foegele being out did impact the Oilers. Falling behind 4-1, they did seem to lack rhythm. It wasn’t until McDavid tried to steal the show in the third, but even still outside of McDavid, you could tell the club lacked flow. 

Our final note is that if the Oilers are to come back McDavid and Draisaitl need to do their best Batman-and-Robin. Without the two producing, the Stanley Cup Finalist Oilers are mere civilians. Get ready, the puck drop isn’t long from now from Edmonton’s Roger Place.

Main photo credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports



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