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MORNING SKATE REPORT: Oilers vs. Panthers

by Meg Tilley / Edmonton Oilers

 
INSIDE THE OILERS

 

News, notes and more from Oilers practice on Saturday at Rexall Place, including key injury updates on Connor McDavid and Oscar Klefbom.

>> READ MORE IN THE INSIDE THE OILERS BLOG

 

PRE-GAME REPORT




EDMONTON, AB -
The Florida Panthers are on the hunt for their 12th straight win, extending a franchise record, after securing their 11th against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night.
 
After the Oilers disappointing 3-2 loss to Tampa Bay on Friday, in which they had a 2-0 lead, Edmonton is looking to make a quick turnaround and put an end to Florida’s streak.
 
“They’re playing good defensive hockey, they’re not giving up a lot, they’re finding ways to make teams pay with the little chances they’ve been able to create in some of those games so they’ve been efficient that way,” said Oilers forward Mark Letestu.
 
“I think we just have to kind of stick to what we’ve been doing, not get discouraged by the game against Tampa with some bad luck but continue to play hard. We’ve played some of the best teams in the league hard this year and I think them coming in, there will definitely be motivation coming of the loss.”
 
The Panthers have given up just eight goals in their past seven games and 14 during their winning streak, which is the longest in the NHL this season.
 
“I think they’re a really interesting team to look at, and then obviously play, and we’ll start the look-at part — they’ve been an organization that tries to build and find a way through things and I think they’ve got to that point now,” said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan.
 
The Oilers look to protect their 12-8-1 home record and secure a win before they travel Monday for road games in Arizona and San Jose.
 
This will be the first time this season that the Oilers and Panthers will face off, meeting again eight days later in Sunrise.

In the 2014-15 season, the Panthers and Oilers split their two games.
 
Edmonton’s forward Benoit Pouliot got the Oilers within one but Florida’s insurance goal from then-forward Sean Bergenheim secured a 4-2 Panthers win on January 11, 2015 at Rexall Place.
 
Six days later, in the Panthers barn, Oilers forward Jordan Eberle scored two for Edmonton while Nail Yakupov scored the shootout winner in a 3-2 victory.
 
“[They’re a] big team, great goaltending, goals against is excellent, they don’t beat themselves, they manage the game properly,” said McLellan. “When you look at an interesting stat… look at their goals against per game, the numbers in their win streak…. A lot of their numbers match ours, except for goals against [and] five-on-five and we talked about that today.”
 
THE AGELESS WONDER
 
In the 2014-15 season, the Panthers and Oilers split two games.
 
Edmonton’s forward Benoit Pouliot got the Oilers within one but Florida’s insurance goal from then-forward Sean Bergenheim secured a 4-2 Panthers win on January 11, 2015.
 
Six days later, in the Panthers barn, Oilers forward Jordan Eberle scored two for Edmonton while Nail Yakupov scored in a shootout in Edmonton’s 3-2 win.
 
“[They’re a] big team, great goaltending, goals against is excellent, they don’t beat themselves, they manage the game properly,” said McLellan. “When you look at an interesting stat… look at their goals against per game, the numbers in their win streak…. A lot of their numbers match ours, except for goals against [and] five-on-five and we talked about that today.”
 
Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr leads Florida in scoring with 30 points this season, including 14 goals — four of which were scored in the last five games.
 
Oilers defenceman Brandon Davidson said Jagr, who is playing his 25th NHL season, and the Panthers will be welcomed competition for the Edmonton team. 
 
“He’s still [playing] at an elite level and you’ve got to respect it,” said Davidson. “He’s done a great job taking care of himself and making sure he’s been able to play so long, so it’s great to see guys like that who have the heart and the passion like that. He’s definitely going to be a challenge for us tonight — he’s a big body and is really strong on pucks.”
 
Though McLellan reiterated Davidson’s thoughts on Jagr, the Oilers bench boss said that it’s a team of young talent and seasoned veterans that they’re up against, not one player.
 
“Well we’ve got to play against a team. Jagr’s their leading scorer, where he controls the puck with his big body and his ability to play, but he’s not Patrick Kane with [60] points, he’s got 30,” said McLellan.
 
“To me, that’s an indication that their team game is good, they don’t rely on one player. He has the ability to protect pucks and get his hands away from his body, a long distance away, so you can’t always go stick on puck against him because you can’t reach it and then he makes plays off of that. But I’m quite sure that the people around him are doing a pretty good job as well.”
 
LINEUP NOTES
 
Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot was first off the ice for and is expected to start his sixth straight game. Defenceman Mark Fayne returns to the lineup and is expected to replace Brad Hunt.
 
“Bigger body against a big team,” said McLellan.
 
“They have some size, they roll around and use it well. Hunt is a little bit, obviously, a lot smaller than Mark Fayne and that experience against Jagr may help as well, but there’s other players again that we have to be concerned with.”
 
Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo is expected to get the night off Sunday and then start against former club the Vancouver Canucks on Monday, which means Al Montoya will start against the Oilers.

-- Meg Tilley, edmontonoilers.com

 

NHL.COM PREVIEW

 

PANTHERS (25-12-4) at OILERS (17-22-3)

TV: SN1, FS-F

Season series:
The Florida Panthers and Edmonton Oilers split two games last season. Benoit Pouliot got the Oilers within one, but Sean Bergenheim's insurance goal sealed the 4-2 Panthers win on Jan. 11, 2015 at Rexall Place. Nail Yakupov scored in the shootout in Edmonton's 3-2 win six days later at BB&T Center. Jordan Eberle had two goals for Edmonton. Nick Bjugstad and Jussi Jokinen had two assists apiece for Florida.

Panthers team scope:
Florida practiced Saturday and will try to extend their franchise-record winning streak to 12 games. Al Montoya will start against the Oilers and Roberto Luongo, who has won a career-best nine games in a row, will be in net against the Vancouver Canucks on Monday, according to the Sun Sentinel. "I think we've been playing pretty good since Thanksgiving," defenseman Brian Campbell told the Sun Sentinal. "… But we're playing good hockey and we've been doing it for longer than these (11) games."  The Panthers continue a ix-game road trip with three games in four days in Canada. "We've had a good start to the road trip, but now the tough part comes. We won the first two on this road trip in Buffalo and Ottawa and now we're in the western part of it and hopefully we continue to play well and get some wins," coach Gerard Gallant told the Panthers website.

Oilers team scope:
Edmonton, which had a six-game winning streak from Dec. 2-14, will try to end the Panthers' streak. "We had our own little streak there and teams got up for you to try and knock you off the pedestal," coach Todd McLellan told the Oilers website. "That will be a challenge for us." Edmonton is coming off a 3-2 defeat to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday where each goal allowed deflected off an Oilers player past goalie Cam Talbot. "Anytime it's the hottest team in the League, everyone wants a chance to take them down," right wing Teddy Purcell told the Oilers website. "We have to forget about [Friday], hopefully get the same offensive looks, be a little bit harder and tighten things up on our end." McLellan on Saturday confirmed rookie center Connor McDavid (clavicle), the first overall selection in the 2015 NHL Draft, and defenseman Oscar Klefbom (lower-body injury) won't return to the lineup until after the All-Star break.

-- NHL.com
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