July 21st, 2024

Edmonton Oilers are searching for answers down 3-0 in the Stanley Cup Final

By Stephen Whyno, The Associated Press on June 14, 2024.

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) – Leon Draisaitl had 28 points through the Edmonton Oilers’ first three rounds of the playoffs, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had 20 and Zach Hyman had 18.

Through the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final, they have not a single goal or assist between them.

That lack of production is a big reason the Oilers are down 3-0 in the series against the Florida Panthers and searching for answers as they look to avoid being the first team swept in the final since the Washington Capitals in 1998.

“They’re doing a good job,” said Hyman, who has a team-high 14 goals this postseason. “Give their goalie credit, but there’s no excuses. This is the time of year where there aren’t any excuses. … You got to be able to bear now when you have a chance, but I think that the looks are there.”

Scoring chances have been plentiful, something coach Kris Knoblauch pointed out repeatedly after practice Friday and an aspect of the series that puts Edmonton in a strange spot. Connor McDavid, who has three assists, and others have had such quality opportunities against Sergei Bobrovsky that Knoblauch thinks it’s a matter of time until the Oilers break through.

Time is just something that is not on their side given they can be eliminated Saturday night in Game 4 on home ice.

“You keep shooting the puck, good things are going to happen,” veteran winger Corey Perry said. “You go to the net, good things are going to happen. It’s tough because it’s where we are and the point of the season to go through (this), but we just keep plugging away and good things are going to happen.”

They need to happen quickly to have any chance of extending the series to a Game 5 at Florida on Tuesday night.

It starts with McDavid, Draisaitl and the other highly paid stars finding a way to beat Bobrovsky, who has been Edmonton’s biggest obstacle in the final. Those two alone have combined for 23 shots on net, with none of them going in.

“It’s very frustrating, of course,” Draisaitl said after losing Game 3. “I pride myself on being good in the playoffs and playing well and I just can’t seem to get anything going. Yeah, obviously have to look in the mirror and try to be better.”

One thing that needs to be better is the power play, which is 0 for 10 this series after looking almost automatic at times earlier in the playoffs at a league-best 37%. A few clanks off the post and some crazy saves by Bobrovsky have been part of the goose egg and a big reason the Oilers are not expecting to reinvent their power play at this stage.

Point man Evan Bouchard thinks it’s just a matter of bearing down.

“We’re getting our looks, especially on the power play,” Bouchard said. “We’re getting one good look per power play, essentially, it seems like. If one of those goes in, it’s a different game. Next game we’ve got to make sure we put one in when we get the chance.”

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AP NHL playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/stanley-cup and https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL

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