Three takeaways from Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final

    The Florida Panthers were able to take Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night, earning a 3-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers to take an early 1-0 series lead. 

    Here are three takeaways from the Panthers’ win as they get one step closer to winning their first championship. 

    1. Game 1 was the Sergei Bobrovsky show

    There is one primary reason the Panthers were able to take the first game of the series, and it was starting goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.

    Bobrovsky has been a little up-and-down this postseason despite his impressive record and the Panthers’ success as a team, but he stole the show on Saturday and was not only the best player on the ice, he played his best game of the playoffs and one of the best and biggest games of his career.

    He stopped all 32 shots he faced to record the shutout, and it was not just the number of saves he made that was impressive.

    It was also the quality of the saves.

    For much of the night, the Oilers dictated the pace of the game and took up residence at the Panthers’ end of the ice. But they were unable to solve Bobrovsky. 

    On paper and statistically, Florida has been the better team for most of the season and playoffs, and goaltending is one of the biggest advantages they have. It was on full display on Saturday with Bobrovsky’s showing. 

    2. The Oilers have a major problem with their defense

    The Oilers have some major flaws on their roster, and one of the biggest is their second defense pairing of Darnell Nurse and Cody Ceci. 

    Entering play on Saturday that pairing had been outscored by a 10-4 margin during 5-on-5 play this postseason and been badly outshot and out-chanced. They were also on the ice for 12 total goals in all situations (including power play and penalty kill). 

    That duo was victimized on Florida’s first two goals on Saturday, bringing their 5-on-5 tally to being outscored 12-4 in the playoffs in only a little more than 200 minutes of hockey. That is simply not good enough, and it is a big weakness that Florida might be able to exploit. 

    As good as the top part of the Oilers’ lineup is, it only takes a couple of weaknesses to sink a series. 

    This could be a big one for the Oilers to worry about. 

    3. Florida has to be more disciplined

    The one big concern Florida has to have the rest of this series is the amount of penalties it took in Game 1. 

    The Panthers were penalized five times on Saturday, putting Edmonton’s league-best power play on the ice way too many times.

    While the Panthers were able to keep that unit off the scoreboard on Saturday, there were some dangerously close calls and it is only a matter of time before the Oilers capitalize on those chances.

    If Florida takes that many penalties in Game 2 (or any other game in this series) it could rapidly flip the results against them. 

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