Takeaways: Oilers’ usual suspects absent again in loss to Panthers

Roberto Luongo allowed only one goal as the Florida Panthers beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-1.

Uh oh.

For the first time this season the 2017-18 Oilers showed up, an Edmonton lineup laden with players who made little difference in Thursday’s fixture. Edmonton was outshot 19-4 in the second period and managed just a single goal against the 31st ranked team in the National Hockey League.

Passengers? Oh, there were plenty of those. Now the Oilers have lost three straight, and watched a nice opening 12 games turn into an 8-7-1 record.

You can live with that mark, but this ship had better turn around soon, or we’ll be right back where we were 12 months ago in Edmonton. Sorry if we sound a little paranoid, but disinterested, disengaged efforts like this were commonplace last season.

In a game that could have meant a .500 road trip, against the last place team in the NHL, it’s worrisome to see as poor an effort as this.

Here are some takeaways from a 4-1 loss to the Panthers.

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Pumping His Tires

Give Roberto Luongo the first star in this one. Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl and Ty Rattie each had five-bell chances in the opening five minutes, and both were thwarted on fabulous saves by Luongo.

His slow-starting Panthers were given some rope by their goalie, and made the most of it. They went into the dressing room with a scoreless draw after 20 minutes, thanks to Luongo, and emerged to dominate the Oilers in Period 2 to take a 2-0 lead that Florida would never relinquish in a 4-1 win.

The eldest netminder in today’s goalie union stopped 26 of 27 pucks Thursday, and at age 39 looked 15 years younger against the Oil.


When the Oilers were fashioning that tidy 8-1-1 start, they were getting contributions from every unexpected corner of the lineup. Well, that good fortune has ceased.

Now, you can say they’ve run into red-hot goalies for two nights in a row, but that is the siren song of the beaten. To win in the NHL you have to bury chances, and get the puck to the net enough to bag the odd lucky one as well.

Edmonton had 27 shots on net Thursday, and some decent scoring chances, but the usual suspects were absent. The third line of Ryan Strome, Milan Lucic and Drake Caggiula had six shots and no points, and when the third period opened head coach Todd McLellan was forced to resort to his favourite and oldest trick, putting Draisaitl on Connor McDavid’s wing, a move that produced Edmonton’s only tally.

Oscar Klefbom’s hesitancy to shoot on the power play is becoming an issue, and now that Alex Chiasson’s hot streak has curtailed, the Oilers are looking for the next man up to arrive.

Whoever he is, he was absent in Sunrise.

Wish That I Had Jesse’s World

The Jesse Puljujarvi watch was on, as he drew back into the lineup on the fourth line. He had a low-profile night, playing 9:06 with zero shots on net.

It was just another uninvolved evening that begs for a demotion to the American Hockey League for the young Finn, a transaction that has somehow been like pulling teeth in Edmonton. The Bakersfield Condors start a busy stretch of games next Friday, and our sources lead us to expect Puljujarvi to be in their lineup in time for those games.

It can’t happen fast enough for anyone who has tired of watching a 20-year-old prospect dying a slow death in Edmonton, where he is simply above his head at the NHL level. Put the kid out of his misery. He’s not an NHL player today, and won’t ever be one if not developed properly.

Dot Not

The Oilers won 37 per cent of their faceoffs, an indicator of the kind of battle they brought to the rink Thursday. McDavid in particular struggled, winning one of nine draws versus Florida, and just three of 21 over two games in the state of Florida.

Kyle Brodziak went 36 per cent Thursday, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins — yarded off of McDavid’s wing to start the third period, on a minus-2 night for RNH — was at 38 per cent.

Bad right from the faceoff. That just about sums up Edmonton’s night in Florida.


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