The level of physicality in Sunday’s game against the Florida Panthers may have surprised some. The number of hits, fights, and tough physical play was high. Head Coach Todd McLellan was pleased with how the Oilers answered after the opening frame.
“It wasn’t very hard in the first period, and then we finally decided we were going to at least engage a little bit. Then the game became hard, which was good for us to play in,” said McLellan.
Eric Gryba landed two big hits on Corban Knight, the first of which resulted in a fight with Nick Bjugstad. Matt Hendricks levelled Aaron Ekblad behind the net, which didn’t draw a penalty, but drew anger from the Panthers. Hendricks fought Logan Shaw after that, his second scrap of the game after an earlier bout with Alex Petrovic.
“I thought that’s as good a response to physicality I’ve seen from our team this year and probably in my seven years in San Jose when we played Edmonton,” said McLellan.
Taylor Hall was checked hard at centre by Erik Gudbranson. While that hit didn’t spark certain fireworks, McLellan approved of the response.
“I thought it was excellent,” said the coach. “I thought we went and played physical after that. I thought it was great. If you think we’re going to jump off the bench and run after him and jump him, it’s not happening. That’s not the way the game is played anymore. After that, I thought we were physical.”
All in all, the Oilers managed to limit the Panthers shots on net and keep up physically with a team that is hot right now. Unfortunately, the Oilers dropped the 2-1 decision.
“I thought we were aggressive. We kept the team that has 12 wins (in a row) now, I think we gave up 14 shots at the end of the night. Lost the game, not happy about it. We attempted 68 at their net. I thought we answered the physical bell.”