The Edmonton Oilers hope to find some traction at home against the Florida Panthers. If Cam Talbot wants to make good on his prediction that his team will reach the playoffs, they better get going soon. The Oilers enter the new week with a record of 23-27-3, a major disappointment for a team who was expected to compete this season. Instead, we have the Vegas Golden Knights, Winnipeg Jets, and Carolina Hurricanes competing.
There is still plenty of time left, but as we get closer to March, the window is going to get smaller and smaller. The Oilers are currently 16 points behind the final wildcard position, which is occupied by the Minnesota Wild. That’s a heck of a mountain to climb. They better chip away at it before the end of the month, or there isn’t going to be much of a comeback opportunity left. Talbot was clearly trying to light a spark under his team, but it hasn’t worked out so well.
The Oilers enter on a three-game losing streak and losers in four of their last five games. So much for a response after your goaltender says you’ll make the playoffs. The Oilers were dumped by the Ducks in the playoffs a year ago. However, armed with Connor McDavid, the following year was when they were going to be real contenders to win the conference.
But, futures betters who selected the Oilers to win the Stanley Cup, and there are several out there, are ready to rip up their tickets. It’s getting to that point, but we’re not there just yet, at least not officially. On the other side, the Panthers are even across the board, with a record of 23-23-3. They’ve been just that, average with first-year head coach Bob Boughner behind the bench. They are 9 points behind a wildcard, so there is work left for them as well. Head below for our free Panthers vs. Oilers pick.
Florida Panthers vs. Edmonton Oilers Pick
Despite a 3-1 loss to the Kings in their previous game, the Panthers had a four-game winning streak going up to that point. They were nearly able to match their longest winning streak of the year at five games, but the Kings made sure that wasn’t happening. The Panthers have been playing musical chairs with their goaltenders, as they try to navigate through injuries. Roberto Luongo and James Reimer both went down, leaving the Panthers Harri Sateri in net. The 28-year-old Finnish netminder played well in relief of Luongo and Reimer, but the Panthers are hoping they won’t have to rely on him too much moving forward. Reimer was recently activated from the IR, and is listed as the expected goaltender in net for Monday night.
The Panthers have felt the impact without a healthy Luongo. They rank 25th in the NHL, with 3.15 goals allowed per game. A healthy Luongo would have at least bumped them up a few spots in that regard, and as a result, in the standings. He hasn’t played since December 4th, but is nearing a return along with Reimer. The Panthers haven’t faired so well against the Oilers, as Edmonton are 13-3 in their last sixteen meetings.
This is the first of a six-game road trip for the Panthers. After spending a week in Florida, and a lengthy road trip in their future, I expect them to come into Edmonton sluggish. The Oilers need this game in the worst way possible. They head back on the road after this pitstop in Edmonton and can’t afford to drop their fourth in a row. The Oilers have not been good this season, but I expect them to drop a Florida team who I don’t see being focused in this spot.
PICK: OILERS (-145)