June 22, 2024

Brighton Journal

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Oilers are confident they can solve the problem of Sergei Bobrovsky from the Panthers

Oilers are confident they can solve the problem of Sergei Bobrovsky from the Panthers

foot. LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was impenetrable in a 3-0 Stanley Cup Final win over Edmonton. But the Oilers are confident they can find ways to beat him.

“He’s a good goalie,” Edmonton star Leon Draisaitl said Sunday. “He’s going to make some big saves. Knowing that is important. With our group we’re always going to get our looks. We’re always going to get chances. Keep being loose and just playing our game.”

Bobrovsky stopped all 32 shots he faced in Game 1. He held the goal line in the first period, when the Panthers were outscored 12-4. He made six penalty saves, as Florida went 3-for-3 against a unit that was converting over 37% after three rounds of the playoffs. He shrugged off three breakaways in Edmonton, including a stop on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to preserve Florida’s lead.

Edmonton coach Kris Knoblauch didn’t go so far as to say Bobrovsky stole Game 1.

“It’s fair to say he played really well, but I think there are things we can do that are within our control and we could have made more of the chances we had,” he said. “He definitely made some big saves, but I think there were some missed opportunities where we missed the net or didn’t get the shot we wanted to.”

Knoblauch also said he doesn’t think the Game 1 shutout will get into the minds of his players.

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“We have to put ourselves in a position to get good scoring chances and take advantage of those chances. If we play well, they will go our way,” he said. “As much as any goalie can play against us, we’re going to get some production.”

One area where the Oilers can improve is shot placement. Bobrovsky gave up 38 goals in the postseason. Of those, 31 were high glove or high blocker side. He’s a great player, and he didn’t give up a single 5-hole goal in qualifying.

“Obviously, you want to get to a high level, so this is your best opportunity,” said Nugent-Hopkins, who expressed regret over not taking advantage of the opportunity to part ways with Bobrovsky. “He’s an athletic goalkeeper, so he’ll cut most of the net. We’ve seen some looks like that where you think you’ve got him, but he doesn’t give up.”

Bobrovsky was key for the Panthers in holding the Oilers scoreless. They got some looks, but the Florida goalie saw them clearly.

“They have a lot of power,” Panthers defenseman Gustav Forsling said. “I think you can see how effective they are. We kept them out there and let Bob see the ball most of the time. So I think we’re sticking with it, keeping the pressure on.”

Edmonton star Connor McDavid led his team with six shots on goal. He was the top scorer in the playoffs with 31 points, and was dangerous all night. But he was unable to get past the Panthers’ last line of defence.

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“He’ll make plays and sometimes he’ll hang over you,” Florida defenseman Niko Mikkola said. “But that’s why we have Bobby.”

In other series news, Oilers forward Evander Kane’s health has been a topic of discussion. Kane’s performance was negative, and for the second match in a row, he did not attempt a shot on goal. In his past eight games, he has only one assist.

Kane has been suffering from a sports hernia all season. He tried to manage it by not exercising and skiing a lot on his days off.

“It doesn’t affect my upper body,” Kane said earlier in qualifying. “Anyone who has had this type of injury knows that it’s the skating, the speed and the agility that can really take a toll on you.”

Knoblauch admitted that Kane was not himself.

“He’s obviously not the Evander Kane he was two years ago, or even when I came here,” said the coach, who was appointed last November. “He was scoring at will and had a very good season. Then he had to take some time off due to some injuries and maintenance days.”

Kane scored 24 goals and made 20 assists in 77 regular season games.

“Evander has been good for our team,” Knoblauch said. “Maybe he’s not on the scoresheet as much as he has been in the past, but he’s still contributing to our team and I don’t think we would be where we are today if Evander wasn’t playing throughout the qualifiers.”