Here's why the Edmonton Oilers shouldn't be worried, and why they should

The optimists and the pessimists are at odds today over what to make of Florida’s Game 1 victory Saturday night

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Four or five more games like the last one and the Edmonton Oilers are going to be Stanley Cup champions, right?

Or did the underdogs just gas their best chance to get a jump on the mighty Panthers, failing to capitalize on what is almost certainly going to be the last mediocre game Florida plays in this series?

The optimists and the pessimists are at odds today over what to make of Florida’s Game 1 victory Saturday night, a contest they somehow managed to steal 3-0 despite giving Edmonton three power plays, two breakaways and being outshot 32-18.

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To some, this is proof positive that Edmonton is the better team and will win out when the law of averages starts to kick in over the long haul.

To others, all it means is that Florida is wide awake now, one win away from a 2-0 stranglehold, and won’t be caught flat-footed again.

The truth is that the Oilers have nothing to worry about, except for things they should be very worried about:

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This Always Happens — The Oilers have lost nine of 11 series openers in the Connor McDavid era. They usually take a little time to get rolling and once they do they are hard to stop. This is a team that can rebound (5-1 after a loss in these playoffs) and rise to the occasion when the situation is urgent (5-1 in Games 5, 6 and 7). It will be full on urgent in Game 2 Monday.

WORRY

Worst Was Good Enough — Florida won despite playing a pretty mediocre game. It’s not a good sign when the other team doesn’t generate much of anything, spends most of the night in its own end and still beats you. Playoffs are about finding a way to win and now that Florida has a Goalie Steal in the books they can set to work on something else for Game 2.

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Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers
SUNRISE, FLORIDA – JUNE 08: Brandon Montour #62 of the Florida Panthers celebrates a second period goal by Evan Rodrigues #17 against the Edmonton Oilers in Game One of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final at Amerant Bank Arena on June 08, 2024 in Sunrise, Florida. Photo by Bruce Bennett /Getty Images

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They Proved A Point — Even though they didn’t score a goal, the Oilers had no trouble employing their style of game against Florida, and it was enough to keep the Panthers on their heels. Concerns they would be run out of the rink were unfounded. The Oilers can fly, draw penalties, get scoring chances and threaten with their high-end skill and speed. In short, they can be the Oilers. Florida Got Lucky. There’s No way Bobrovsky can do that again.

WORRY

Things don’t carry over in the playoffs — Just because Edmonton outshot Florida badly in Game 1 doesn’t mean they will outshoot them badly in Game 2. It doesn’t work like that. The Oilers swarmed Vancouver 45-18 in a very similar loss two rounds ago and needed a seeing-eye shot with 39 seconds left to win the next game. And Dallas outshot Edmonton 34-10 in Game 6, does that make the Stars a better team?

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There’s More To Come — McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Zach Hyman, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Evan Bouchard are not going to be silenced for long. In his four games after being held without a point this year, McDavid has two goals and six assists. Prior to Saturday, Bouchard had only been blanked three times in 19 playoff games. Draisaitl had a point in 13-straight games from the start of the playoffs. They’ll be back.

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WORRY

Math Is Hard — The stats are terrifying. The team that wins Game 1 of a Stanley Cup Final series goes on the win the Cup 76 per cent of the time. And when the Game 1 win goes to the home team, the number jumps to 84 per cent. That’s pretty deflating. What do things that happened in the 1930s or 1960s have to do with here and now? Who knows, but those are some wild numbers.

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No Stage Fright — The experience factor wasn’t a factor in Game 1. Even though Florida had been here last year and the Oilers were first-timers, there was no stage fright whatsoever. Edmonton controlled the first period and looked right at home in a Cup final.

WORRY

Florida has Edmonton’s number — They are 3-0 against the Oilers this year and outscored them 13-4. One of the regular season losses came after Edmonton had just won three in a row and the other came just after they had won eight in a row, so you can’t just dismiss it as the early season blues.

Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers
SUNRISE, FLORIDA – JUNE 08: The Edmonton Oilers bench reacts to the loss to the Florida Panthers after Game One of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final at Amerant Bank Arena on June 08, 2024 in Sunrise, Florida. Photo by Elsa /Getty Images

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Give Them Nothing — 18 shots on net is Florida’s lowest total of the playoffs, by a lot. The Panthers are second among all playoff teams in shots (averaging 33.2 per game before Saturday). They had 37, 40, 37 and 34 in the last four games against the Rangers and 39, 33, 33, and 41 in the first four games against Boston. Prior to Saturday they had only been outshot twice in 17 playoff games. Edmonton appears to be a different animal.

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WORRY

What About Bob? — Bobrovsky is the best goalie the Oilers have ever seen in the playoffs and he can change the course of a series just like he changed the course of Game 1. Maybe he doesn’t win another game all by himself again, or maybe he does, but it looks like Florida has the clear cut edge in goal and that’s never good in a playoff series.

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