Friday, March 23, 2012

Pre-Game: Game #75 Oilers vs. Panthers

Oilers head on down the coast to Sunrise, Florida to finish off a back to back in Florida. Oilers dropped a 3-2 shootout loss to the Lightning last night. The Oilers have started to play some good hockey over the last half dozen games. They aren't playing their way out of games. They are playing hard for a full 60 minutes. The team structure of their game is finally start to come around. It is a case of too little, too late but kudos to them for trying to do things the right way in what has been another dismal season. The Oilers will have some decisions to make in the offseason about their centers. The centers will, ultimately, be the reason why they win and lose hockey games. We know Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will be here. As for the rest, its all up for debate. Shawn Horcoff and Eric Belanger will likely be here as well unless management takes a hard right turn on one of them. Anton Lander is on the cusp of being a full time player on the Oilers. Sam Gagner is in the mix as well but may have hit his ceiling and may be a casualty of redundancy on this team. Another issue will be whether or not the Oilers take Mikhail Grigorenko at the draft. The Oilers are likely cemented in the #2 spot, at least until the lottery. Grigorenko is pretty much a consensus #2 pick. It will be interesting to see what happens at that time with the centers. Florida comes into this game losers in Carolina Wednesday night, 3-1. Prior to that, the Panthers had won 5 in a row. The Panthers are pushing hard to win the Southeast division, so tonight figures to be a tough test for the Oilers.

Forwards Oilers
- Ales Hemsky has brought secondary scoring for the Oilers over the last few games.
Defense Panthers
- Brian Campbell and Jason Garrison bring high offense from the backend for the Panthers.
Goaltending Panthers
- Jose Theodore, very quietly, has had a solid year for the Panthers.
Special Teams Oilers
- Oilers PP and PK are 2nd and 19th, while the Panthers are 8th and 23rd.
Coaching Panthers
- Kevin Dineen could be a Jack Adams nominee with this rag tag group.
Intangibles Panthers
- Oilers are in the 2nd game of a back to back.







Game Time - 5:30 PM MT @ Florida on Sportsnet West.

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