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NHL Today: Can the Oilers Score in Game Two?

June 10, 2024 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
Matthew Tkachuk is due for a goal for the Florida Panthers.
Can Matthew Tkachuk snap his goal slump on Monday? (Dan Hickling)

The big story heading into Game Two of the Stanley Cup Finals is whether the high-powered Edmonton Oiler offense can solve Florida Panthers star goalie Sergei Bobrovsky after being shut out in the series opener. Let’s take a closer look at a couple of storylines for this game.

Matthew Tkachuk Slumping

Ironically, the last time we discussed Matthew Tkachuk, he was busting out of a slump, and while it was a solid bet to expect him to do the same in Game One, it didn’t happen.

In fact, he only managed a single shot in enduring a third straight pointless game while seeing his PT dip for the fourth straight contest, surprisingly getting under 14 minutes of action on Saturday.

Since potting a goal and an assist in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Rangers, Tkachuk has managed just three helpers in six games. While it’s true he took a step back offensively this season (just 26 goals in the wake of back-to-back 40-goal campaigns), this development is surprising.

Despite the recent skid, Tkachuk is still tied for the team lead in playoff scoring with 19 points, and the fact that the Panthers got through the Rangers and are now ahead 1-0 over the Oilers with next-to-no contributions from him bodes extremely well for their success in this series.

He’s in the 99th percentile of shots on goal for the playoffs, so the goals will come. Let’s face it: Keith Tkachuk‘s oldest son can do it all, from scoring to playing with the meanest edge imaginable (watch Connor McDavid pretend not to be afraid of him in the video below).

Edmonton Tweaks Blueline for Game Two

It’s not that Edmonton played poorly in Game One, but it’s clear it needs to show more fire on Monday if there’s any hope of squaring this series at a game apiece (for what it’s worth, the Oilers are -250 underdogs as per odds at FanDuel).

It does not seem that Edmonton will make any changes to its forward corps, but on defense, Cody Ceci will apparently sit for Vincent Desharnais. Ceci was a Fantasy option a few years back during his last season in Ottawa, but he was rancid in his one campaign with the Leafs before bouncing back with the Penguins and even more so (at least in his debut) with the Oilers.

Ceci wasn’t bad this season (51.5 CF percentage, up from 50.3 in 2022-23), but during these playoffs, he ranks dead last among Edmonton blueliners in CF percentage, and his pairing with Darnell Nurse has been a real sore point among the team’s faithful.

Realistically, what the Oilers need more than anything is to get their vaunted power play going (0-for-3 in Game One), but Ceci barely played on the man advantage on Saturday, so this change won’t really affect this area of the game at all. But if it improves Edmonton’s overall team D, then it’ll be a welcome lineup tweak.

RotoRob Tune of the Day

American rock band The Doors formed in 1965 and remained active until 1973, briefly reuniting in 1978. Their ninth and final studio effort, An American Prayer, was released in 1978 several years after the death of Jim Morrison. It kicked off with “Awake,” a four-part piece that includes “Ghost Song.”

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