Call it a battle of the basement dwellers but this is a game the Edmonton Oilers can and must win tonight against the Florida Panthers. Kicking off a four-game road trip that begins tonight in the Sunshine state, the Oilers are stumbling right along, having lost five straight. To make matters worse they haven’t scored a goal in two straight games and only one in the last three. Not exactly a high point for any hockey club let alone a team that entered this season with lofty, but reasonable expectations.
This is a tale of two teams that have similar scenarios but at the same time different plans as the clubs move forward and hopefully in different directions. The Panthers have a core group of young players that they plan to build around, much like the Oilers were when they started their rebuild, going on eight years ago. The Panthers have assets that they will look to trade between now and the trade deadline next spring which is a different approach that the Oilers may take.
So while one team was expected to be bottom feeders and will look to acquire and stock pile assets for the future, the other is in desperate need of a win to help avoid going down the road of looking at selling come Februrary.
With that, let’s look at the Oilers lines and defensive pairings, followed by the note worthy section.