The Florida Panthers ran into a desperate Calgary team on Tuesday night, one that had lost four consecutive games. The Edmonton Oilers may come into Thursday’s game downright feisty.
The Oilers, despite having two of the best players in the NHL, have lost six straight games and 12 of their past 14.
The team’s fanbase and local media have been calling for wholesale changes and the Panthers know they need to bring a different level of intensity on Thursday night than they did in Calgary.
“They are kind of like Calgary. We’re going in, playing a team that has been off a little bit and really want to get their game set straight,” Andrew Brunette said. “It’s obviously a big challenge.
“They have two of the best players in the world and a really good supporting cast. We have to bring our A-Game, and that’s something we did not do on (Tuesday) night.”
Florida comes into the game with Jonathan Huberdeau tied for third in the NHL in scoring with 53 points. One of the players he is tied with is Edmonton top center Connor McDavid.
Leon Draisaitl, who centers Edmonton’s second line, has 54 points.
The Panthers are going to be paying attention when either of those two scoring machines are on the ice, you best be sure.
“I think it’s going to be a good challenge for (Aaron Ekblad) and I and we look forward to the challenge,” MacKenzie Weegar said of defending those two.
“These are two of the best players in the world and we’re going to see a lot of them. We’ll embrace it and as competitors, we look forward to it. Hopefully we shut them down and get the two points.”
Florida comes into the night an oh-so-average 5-5-5 on the road this season, a stark contrast to the team’s success on home ice.
The Panthers, despite their pedestrian record, have kept road games close this season with a few outliers. Tuesday’s 5-1 drubbing at the Saddledome was one of them.
“A lot of those games were one-goal games where, maybe we just didn’t have enough,” Brunette said. “We’re not going to blow people out every night. I thought we played some good road games even if our record does not indicate that as much.
“At the end of the day, it’s a .500 record. If we want to be an elite team — which we do and we believe we are — we have to get our road game straight.”
— Brunette said that he expected Owen Tippett to get back into the lineup Tuesday after being recalled from AHL Charlotte on Monday.
Tippett scored a goal against Minnesota on Nov. 20, but has just one assist in the next 15 games.
In two games with Charlotte, Tippett registered four points.
“He obviously played well, produced in his weekend stint,” Brunette said. “I think he’ll be in, kind of a morning decision. … I was excited that he was able to go down there, play well and produce. I think it was good to get some touches, get some points. I think that will definitely help his game up here.”
— Brunette said he did not have an update on Patric Hornqvist who left Tuesday’s game in the second period and did not return with an upper-body injury. Brunette said Hornqvist was day-to-day.
— This will be the first game in which Colton Sceviour faces his former Florida teammates after being part of the trade that sent Mike Matheson to the Penguins for Hornqvist in 2020.
Sceviour signed with the Panthers as a free agent in 2016 and spent four seasons with the club.
— With Gus Forsling on the Covid list and out Thursday, Lucas Carlsson gets back in.
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT EDMONTON OILERS
- When: Thursday, 9 p.m.
- Where: Rogers Place; Edmonton, AB
- Tickets: CLICK HERE
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM, SiriusXM
- NHL Betting Odds from FanDuel: Florida favored (Puck Line -1.5 +142) — (Money Line -152) — Over/Under 7 (-106/-114)
- Last season: Did not play
- All-time regular season series: Edmonton leads 20-13-0, 3 ties
PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINEUP
23 Carter Verhaeghe // 16 Sasha Barkov // 13 Sam Reinhart
11 Jonathan Huberdeau // 8 Sam Bennett // 10 Anthony Duclair
17 Mason Marchment // 15 Anton Lundell // 74 Owen Tippett
94 Ryan Lomberg // 27 Eetu Luostarinen // 98 Maxim Mamin
52 MacKenzie Weegar // 5 Aaron Ekblad
4 Olli Juolevi // 62 Brandon Montour
32 Lucas Carlsson // 7 Radko Gudas
72 Sergei Bobrovsky
30 Spencer Knight
Scratched: Frank Vatrano, Joe Thornton
Taxi squad: Evan Fitzpatrick, Aleksi Heponiemi
Injured: Noel Acciari (LTIR), Markus Nutivaara (LTIR), Patric Hornqvist
Covid Protocol: Jonas Johansson, Gus Forsling
PROJECTED EDMONTON OILERS LINEUP
42 Brendan Perlini // 97 Connor McDavid // 56 Kailer Yamamoto
18 Zach Hyman // 29 Leon Draisaitl // 13 Jesse Puljujarvi
37 Warren Foegele // 71 Ryan McLeod // 44 Zach Kassian
14 Devin Shore // 10 Derek Ryan // 70 Colton Sceviour
25 Darnell Nurse // 5 Cody Ceci
2 Duncan Keith // 22 Tyson Barrie
6 Kris Russell // 75 Evan Bouchard
19 Mikko Koskinen
41 Mike Smith