The Coaches Room is a regular feature throughout the 2023-24 season by former NHL coaches and assistants who turn their critical gaze to the game and explain it through the lens of a teacher.

In this edition, Bob Woods, former assistant coach with the Washington Capitals, Anaheim Ducks, Buffalo Sabres and Minnesota Wild, writes about two ways the Edmonton Oilers can claw back in the Stanley Cup Final against the Florida Panthers after losing Games 1 and 2 at Amerant Bank Arena.

The Edmonton Oilers were able to find seams with their speed and essentially use the Florida Panthers' aggressive style against them in Game 1. They didn't score in the 3-0 loss, but that was because of Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky being simply just outstanding.

That recipe, though, of taking what the Panthers do so well and turning it against them is part of what the Oilers need more of in Game 3 at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; CBC, TVAS, SN, ESPN+, ABC).

They're down 2-0 in the best-of-7 series and they have scored one goal. It came in a 4-on-4 situation. But they know they can play with Florida and they know they can generate Grade-A scoring chances both from what they did repeatedly in Game 1 and how Mattias Ekholm scored their only goal of the series so far at 11:17 of the first period in Game 2.

They do it by finding seams through the middle of the ice, by taking advantage of the Panthers aggressive approach.

Florida wants its forwards to forecheck hard and its defensemen to pinch down the walls. When it works, the Panthers play like they did after Ekholm scored in Game 2, but when it doesn't you can get a goal like Ekholm scored.

Aaron Ekblad came so far down the right-wing wall that he was almost in the corner with two teammates trying to defend Connor McDavid. But McDavid quickly recognized it and used his backhand to get the puck off his tape and up the ice to Ekholm. Edmonton had a 3-on-1 because of Florida’s aggressiveness and Ekholm scored.

The key for the Oilers is to get the puck past their first wave of forecheckers.

Flip it out. Chip it off the glass. Whatever they need to do to get it out of the defensive zone and into the neutral zone, do it.

And then they need to use their speed to skate onto it, to win the race to the puck. It can't be just a flip-it-out-and-change situation. That won't work. That feeds into what the Panthers want.

It has to be flip or chip it out and chase to maybe catch Florida being overaggressive. Get pucks behind them and then you've got your forwards going with speed. You can create outnumbered situations off that.

Those are going to be the things they're looking for. The Oilers are an explosive team off the rush. That is their game. If they get enough opportunities the Panthers are going to have to back off eventually.

The Oilers weren’t able to do that enough in Game 2. The Panthers surely saw what happened in Game 1 and adjusted accordingly. They saw they were giving up too much, being too reliant on Bobrovsky, but speed is Edmonton's game and that is what it has to get back to.

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It'll obviously help the Oilers being at home for Games 3 and 4 to get the matchups they want. And if Aleksander Barkov is unable to play for Florida on Thursday that will obviously be a huge hole too.

But all of that won't be enough against the Panthers because they won't stop attacking or being aggressive even without the matchups and, potentially, Barkov. It works for them. They grind. They finish checks. They force turnovers. That's their game and they won't stop playing it.

That's why the Oilers must get their power play going. It's their biggest asset. They win games with it. It makes the difference for them, and it has to be their strength.

They're 0-for-7 with seven shots on goal on the power play through two games.

I think they can shoot more on the power play, especially Evan Bouchard. He's got a cannon.

They're getting good pressure, but everybody knows that Edmonton is a big seam team on the power play and Florida has done a good job of not allowing those seam passes, especially to Leon Draisaitl for his one-timers. He had one really good look in Game 2, but the Panthers have done a good job of taking that away for the most part.

So, if you're the Oilers, the way you're going to free things up is just shooting it more.

I mentioned Bouchard because of his big shot from the point, but I also think McDavid needs to look to shoot more. He's so good coming off the wall and attacking the middle of the ice. He creates the seam for himself, but he's looking to dish it off. If he shoots it more it will create opportunities and the Panthers will have to respect the shot, which will open up the seams.

Overall, the Oilers can't feel bad about how they've played in the series, and they should feel great about coming home to an exciting building. They've been in darker situations than this and they know how to dig out of it.

Speed. Attack mode. Power play.

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