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3 Takeaways from Oilers 5-3 Loss to the Panthers

The Edmonton Oilers rough start to the season continued once again on Monday in a 5-3 loss to the Florida Panthers.

Despite losing their last game to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Edmonton Oilers still appeared to be on the right track after a brutal start to the season. After another loss tonight, however, this one coming against the Florida Panthers, it appears they are right back at rock bottom once again.

Related: As Oilers Address Goaltending Woes: Exploring 7 Potential Options

As exciting as this game was, it featured several major defensive breakdowns from the Oilers. That has been the case more often than not so far this season, and results in them sitting at 5-11-1 on the season. With that said, here are the three main takeaways from tonight’s 5-3 loss against the Panthers.

Lead Blown for the Second Straight Game

Against the Lightning on Saturday afternoon, the Oilers found themselves with a 2-0 lead, only to lose the game 6-4. This one was eerily similar, as they were able to beat Sergei Bobrovsky twice less than 10 minutes into the opening frame. However, when the horn sounded for the first intermission, the two sides were locked at two apiece.

McDavid’s insistence the Oilers keep a depth forward proved wise, even if it cost the team other effective players.

This Oilers team has struggled to put together a full 60 minutes, and tonight was no different. They seemed to get complacent in this one after their solid start, and took their foot off the gas pedal soon after. It is inexcusable and is something that cannot be pinned on the coaching staff given that they have already made a change in that area this season.

Oilers Continue the Undisciplined Play

There is a serious argument to be made that Evander Kane has been the Oilers’ best player this season. The 32-year-old has been physically involved each and every night, and has put up some very good offensive numbers as well. That said, he takes a lot of penalties, and one in particular cost him and his team in this game.

Shortly after scoring in the first period to extend the Oilers lead to 2-0, Kane took a run at Matthew Tkachuk, and threw a punch Panthers forward immediately afterward. The referees saw exactly what happened, and gave Kane a two-minute minor as a result. The Panthers would score on that power play, which gave them plenty of momentum they didn’t have prior.

Evan Bouchard is Struggling

From an offensive standpoint, Evan Bouchard is giving the Oilers all they could have hoped for this season. The highly talented 24-year-old has four goals and 17 points on the year, and would likely have even more if players like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl were producing as expected. That said, while his offensive play has been good, his play in his own end is worthy of spending a game or two in the press box.

It seems as though Bouchard has had one or two glaring defensive mistakes every game this season, and tonight was no different. With the game tied 3-3 in the third, he chose to pinch on a play and was then slow on the backcheck. Once he finally did recover, he failed to take anybody in front, and was doing nothing but puck watching as Kevin Stenlund gave the Panthers the lead. The lackadaisical approach is becoming inexcusable at this point and is making Bouchard more of a liability than an asset.

Oilers Playing Their Way Out of the Playoffs

As pointed out by The Athletic’s Thomas Drance once this game had ended, the Oilers will need to play at a 106-point pace for the remainder of the year to reach the expected playoff cut-off of 95 points. While that isn’t an impossible task for a group this talented, it is hard to envision based on what they have shown so far. Their next chance to try and turn things around will come in a game on Wednesday night versus the Carolina Hurricanes.

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