Oilers were the better team in Game 1

Matt Lemear Avatar

The Florida Panthers owe their number one goaltender a huge thank you! The Panthers came out victorious, 3-0 over the Edmonton Oilers in game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals almost solely because of netminder Sergei Bobrovsky.

Carter Verhaege scored just four minutes into the game, however, shots on goal came few and far between for the Panthers throughout the rest of the contest. In contrast, the Oilers peppered the Panthers’ net, but Bobrovsky was more than ready for the game 2 onslaught.

The Panthers added a goal from Evan Rodrigues just over 2 minutes into the 2nd period and an empty net goal with 5 seconds left in the 3rd from Eetu Luostarinen. The latter two goals proved unnecessary, as Bobrovsky stopped all 32 shots he faced in game 1.

The Oilers controlled play for much of the game. Zone entry almost looked easy for Edmonton at times, almost as if Florida was tired and flat-footed, struggling to find their legs after the long layoff. McDavid dazzled with his moves, per usual, however, Edmonton just could not solve the Sergei Bobrovsky puzzle.

Unfortunately for Edmonton, once Florida could smell blood in the water, the Panthers transitioned to their physicality first mindset. Being physical, and at times pushing the limits of the rules is Florida’s MO. The Panthers will beat and bang until the other team is off their game plan. Edmonton needs to adjust for game 2.

One thing about Sergei Bobrovsky is, his weaknesses can be exploited. Look at Florida’s 2nd round, game 1 matchup with Boston. Boston focused their shots blocker high on Bobrovsky and came away with a 5-1 victory. Edmonton’s staff needs to watch, and re-watch video and find a weakness to exploit in similar fashion to what Boston did in game 1 of the second round. The other thing Edmonton needs, even more shots, and those shots need to come from higher danger areas on the ice.

Game 1 saw a lot of drop passes, and D to D volleying from the Oilers. Time and time again, Edmonton’s players chose pass instead of shot. Yes, Edmonton had 32 shots, but 32 shots from the point and outer circles are not going to get the job done. Take those shots from the slot, take the shots when traffic is in front of the net. Sometimes looking for the best shot, isn’t actually the best shot.

Ultimately, if I were Edmonton’s fans, I would not be worried after just one game; especially in a game where the Oilers controlled most of the play. However, if the Oilers come out with more of the same and allow the Panthers to score first and therefore transition to their physical game, the fans might have something to worry about.

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