MANAGER REPORT: Florida Panthers star player will be unavailable during the bigest game due to………

Before the start of the Stanley Cup finals in Florida, Leon Draisaitl faced questions about playing in the shadow of Connor McDavid. He confidently brushed off any suggestion that this affected him, asserting his belief in his own abilities.

“I know I’m a great player,” he stated without pretense.

Ranked among the top 10 players globally, Draisaitl sets exceptionally high standards for himself. However, ahead of Game 6, he openly addressed criticisms of his performance against Florida, acknowledging his limited impact with just two assists in the first five games. Reflecting on his play, he admitted dissatisfaction despite still ranking third in playoff points overall with 30. Notably, in 2022, he had played through a high ankle sprain yet managed to average two points per game.

“I’m not pleased with how I’ve been playing,” Draisaitl confessed, contrasting his current form with McDavid’s standout performance against the Panthers. His usual precision seemed lacking, evident in mishandling pucks and less effective shots on the power play.

“I haven’t found my rhythm, my usual level,” lamented the German forward.

When asked about potential reasons for his struggles—whether due to playing with different linemates or tactics employed by Florida—he dismissed such notions, attributing his performance solely to his own expectations and the need to elevate his game.

“I’ve always bounced back from rough patches. It’s about me being better,” Draisaitl affirmed. “I hold myself to very high standards, and falling short of those standards isn’t acceptable. I’m eager for tonight’s game.”

Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch expressed confidence in Draisaitl’s overall contributions, emphasizing his defensive efforts despite offensive setbacks as the Oilers faced a 3-2 series deficit against the Panthers.

“He’s too hard on himself. He’s still been quite effective,” Knoblauch defended.

Regarding potential lineup changes for Game 6, Knoblauch hinted at the possible return of Evander Kane, sidelined due to a sports hernia or undisclosed injury for the past three games. Kane’s improved skating during practice indicated progress, though his participation remained a game-time decision. This potential return could prompt adjustments, potentially involving swapping out Derek Ryan to accommodate Kane’s role, with Ryan McLeod shifting positions accordingly.

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