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Oilers v. Panthers - Luke 17:1-4

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

One day, coach Eakins said to his players, "There will always be a reason not to give your best effort, but if you succumb to temptation, you'll surely be sorry! It would be better to be demoted to the ECHL than to face the kind of bag skate you'll be forced to endure if I see that your effort is lacking. So keep each other honest! If you see one of your teammates slacking, let him know that you see it, and if he starts working harder, be sure to encourage him. Even if we've scored seven goals in a single game, don't let your effort fall off, but encourage one another to walk in the way that leads to victory."

Florida Panthers @ Edmonton Oilers

Rexall Place, 7:30 p.m. MST
Television: Sportsnet

Visiting Team Scouting Report: The Florida Panthers are lucky in a way. Yeah, their goaltending was awful, and yeah that sunk their chances at the playoffs, but at least it was awful at the beginning of the season. That gives the team the ability to focus on winning in future seasons even if they need to sacrifice some points in the here and now. It means pumping Tim Thomas enough to get something for him via trade and playing Jakob Markstrom enough to know if he'll be part of the equation next season; it means experimenting with older prospects like Jimmy Hayes and Drew Shore to see if they can contribute at the NHL level; and it means making sure that the environment is right for players like Dmitry Kulikov, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Aleksander Barkov to reach their maximum potential.

Expected Lineups:

Edmonton Oilers (6-15-2):

Hall - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Yakupov - Gagner - Hemsky
Smyth - Gordon - Perron
Joensuu - Acton -Gazdic

Belov - J Schultz
Ference - Petry
N Schultz - Potter


Florida Panthers (6-12-4):

Huberdeau - Bjugstad - Flesichmann
Upshall - Barkov - Boyes
Kopecky - Goc - Winchester
Hayes - Matthias - Barch

Campbell - Gilbert
Gudbranson - Kulikov
Mottau - Gilroy


By The Numbers:

  • Ryan Smyth scored a goal and added two assists in Edmonton's last game against the Blue Jackets. The last time Smyth scored three points in a game? October 28, 2011 when he had three points against the Colorado Avalanche. That was the season of Smyth's return, which actually started very well. After winning that game, the Oilers were 6-2-2 and in first place in the Western Conference.
  • Marcel Goc is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next July, and with Florida ready to send away older players for younger players and draft picks, I expect to see Goc in the playoffs with someone. Since arriving in Florida for the 2011-12 season, Goc has played 17:40 per night and has earned 0.44 points per game, almost all of which has come at even strength (84%). He has an even strength faceoff percentage of 52% and spends significant time on the penalty kill. He should certainly get the Panthers a second-round pick and may even get them a first-round pick from one of the higher seeds if they don't think the draft has very good depth.
  • Nail Yakupov saw his ice time bottom out when the Oilers played (and lost) in Philadelphia on November 9th. Yakupov played just 10:46 that night, but has seen his ice time increase every game since (10:54, 13:14, 14:15, 16:19, 16:51). The offense has also started coming. In the five games since Philadelphia, Yakupov has earned five points and (since folks harped on it quite a lot when things were bad) has an even plus/minus rating.