Game Day Preview: Oilers vs. Panthers. Still Breathing When I Walked Away



GAME DAY SONG:  LOST IN THE FLOOD (1975). Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band

The Edmonton Oilers make a rare appearance here in South Florida tonight in a battle of two teams searching for answers.  Or at least some victories.  The Oilers with new coach Dallas Eakins, are at the bottom of the Western conference riding a five game losing streak, that includes being shutout twice.  One of those losses was a result of a shootout, but as we say here at Panther Parkway….a loss is still a loss.  Coming into the season with high expectations, Edmonton is 2-7-1 in their last 10 games, and you can point your finger to goals against as the main culprit.  Much like the Panthers who’ve given up 49 goals, the Oilers have given up a league leading 59.  Also  not helping their situation is the amount of injuries that they’ve suffered.  Ryan Smyth, Taylor Hall and Jesse Joensuu are among the top names of players that are on injured reserve, and Devyn Dubnyk, David Perron and Richard Bachman are day to day with various ailments.

Adding to that, Sam Gagner missed the first 13 games of the season due to a broken jaw, and has just returned to hopefully inject some life into the Oliers roster.  More frustration set in when last season’s number one pick Nail Yakupov was benched for two games in hopes of sending a message about his play.  It’s not a pretty sight in Edmonton these days, and one would think that with all the young players that have been drafted over the past few years, their progress should be better.  Unfortunately, without some skilled veterans to round out the roster and provide the right leadership, the rebuild in Oil country is taking much longer than people expected.  Sound familiar eh?

Florida can relate to much of what the Oilers are going through, yet the Panthers are suffering their agony with a healthy roster.  Minus the injury to Tim Thomas, the Panthers can’t blame their woes on health.  What they can blame it on is the inability to play a full 60 minutes.  There have been games where the Panthers have fought hard to tie a game, only to lose in overtime or the shootout.  And there have also been games where they’ve had a decent start, but after giving up the first goal, the wheels have fallen off, and they’ve let the opposition take the game over.  Putting together a complete effort shouldn’t take 15 games to figure out. Things are beginning to get itchy at this point in the season, and when you’ve only won 3 games out of 14, the prognosis on the balance of the season can’t be good, unless things get turned around quickly.

Coach Kevin Dineen is starting to send messages by benching players during games, as well as providing a comfortable seat in the press box for players who aren’t performing.  No really, the seats are comfy, especially with the access to swedish meatballs, and the assortment of candy now available.  I digress.  Defenceman Ryan Whitney was the first to experience watching the game from upstairs, but finally returned to the lineup on Saturday against the Capitals.  Kris Versteeg however was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career that same game, and wasn’t happy about it.  He also played as an “extra” forward on the fourth line at practice on Monday.  Yea, good times are a happening.  Brad Boyes, who happens to be the teams leading goal scorer has seen games with his minutes cut as well, and was also threatened with being a healthy scratch himself last Friday against Buffalo.  If not for a flu bug to Tomas Fleischmann, he would have been.

Tonight’s game can go either way for either team.  Both clubs are looking to stop 5 game losing streaks, yet one will continue for sure after this game is completed.  This could be a very sloppy game that ends up a high scoring affair, or both teams are so uptight, we could see a scoreless game not decided until the shootout.

If things don’t change much for either team, and soon,  you’d have to think that something is going to happen.  Someone will get fired, and or players will get traded.  Neither club can afford to let this type of slide continue for too much longer without some sort of shakeup.  The Oilers are a proud franchise with a smart and knowledgeable fan base that is growing impatient waiting for a rebuild to take hold.  The Panthers on the other hand are fighting for respect, aiming to improve, but having difficulty putting together the right mix.


* Jesse Winchester has 3 points in his last 4 games.

* Tomas Kopecky is still scoreless in his first 14 games.

* Tom Gilbert and Matt Gilroy are pointless in their last 6 games.

* Scott Gomez is pointless in his last 7 games.

* According to the TSN Game Day above, Edmonton has no “hot players”.

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments and opinions.

Follow the Panther Parkway crew on Twitter: Frank Rekas @FrankRekas, David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Paige Lewis @PaigeLewisFL, Jameson Cooper @JamesonCoop, and Amanda Land @HockeyGirl2530.  Also, please join our FaceBook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and tell us what’s on your mind.

Take Your Mind Off The Panthers & Watch These Videos

After last night’s embarrassing performance by the Florida Panthers at home against the Philadelphia Flyers, I am sure the last thing you want to do is read more analysis about it.  Take your mind off the four game losing streak, and stop asking yourself what’s going to happen next, and look at these videos instead.

First up is Coach’s Corner with Don Cherry.  As always Don is never afraid to speak his mind, give his opinion, slam the desk, and of course wear the craziest looking outfits he can find.  Nonetheless, he does provide entertainment.  In Saturday night’s segment he covers among other things: 1) Fighting, and how the officials need to know when to step in and break them up, and how they should never ask a player if they’ve had enough. 2) Standing up for your teammates, something that’s missing from a few NHL teams.  3) Linesman and the frustration of waiting for them to “drop the puck”. 4) The Nail Yakupov goal celebration.  Cherry was extremely animated about this one saying that Yakupov “acted like an idiot” and “you don’t do stuff like that”.  Watch for yourself:


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