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A wrap on the Stanley Cup Final

Edmonton Oilers Game 7 Stanley Cup Final
Photo credit:Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports
Tyler Yaremchuk
25 days ago
Heading into this spring, I didn’t think it was possible for me to love Oilers fans and Nation Citizens more than I did. But every single game of this playoff run has seen that love grow.
Whether it was being right in the mix down at Rogers Place, being out on the road in another country, watching the atmosphere at the Moss Pit from afar, or being downtown after a big win. Every single moment was a gleaming showcase of what makes this fanbase so special and what sets this city apart from the rest of the league.
This run truly was something special, and on Monday night in Florida, it came to an end.
As I walked through the bar district that sits across the street from Amerant Bank Arena in Florida, you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. We were thousands of kilometres away from Rogers Place, and there were hundreds of Oilers fans jammed into the bar and on the street. It was breathtaking.
As for the vibes of the fan base heading into this game, it is a unique blend of nerves and excitement. 82 regular season games and 24 playoff games resulted in tonight: one game for the Stanley Cup.
Now, to the hockey.
The crowd in Florida was very good and the Panthers came out and gave them a lot to cheer about. We saw a Panthers team that was moving quicker and hitting harder than they have at any point this series. They recognized the moment and the crowd really fueled them.
The Panthers got on the board early but here’s the beauty of this all coming down to one game: one moment can change everything and the Oilers took advantage of their first big moment and Mattias Janmark got loose on a breakaway and made absolutely no mistake.
The celebration was electric and the 5000-plus Oilers fans inside the building responded appropriately.
The shots and chances were relatively even but the Panthers were the better team. Simple as that.
The second period saw the Oilers make some solid pushes. They had some fantastic looks and both of their top lines had shifts where it looked like they were going to solve Sergei Bobrovsky, but just like how the Panthers skaters looked the best they have since Game 2, ‘Bob’ was excellent.
The beauty of these winner take all games is that a handful of breaks and bounces will decide it. Every little play is so massive. That’s exactly what happened when the Panthers took a 2-1 lead. At one end, a chance that just trickles wide of the net and then at the other end, a goal that Stuart Skinner would probably want back.
The Oilers have been a wildly resilient team all season and it’s been well documented. If there was any team that shouldn’t be scared about facing a 2-1 deficit heading into the third period with the Stanley Cup on the line, it’s this Oilers team.
Still, the nerves were there. The Panthers looked like their old selves and the Oilers’ big guns were being smothered.
The Oilers made a hell of a push in the third period but they ended up one comeback short.
There were mad scrambles that didn’t go their way. There were near misses that probably found a way to go in on most nights. It just wasn’t going to happen tonight.
The Oilers couldn’t get a sniff in the final 90 seconds, a comment on both their stars being absolutely gassed and Paul Maurice’s smothering coaching style working to perfection and the rats poured onto the ice.
A remarkable run. An improbable, damn near impossible comeback on the biggest stage, and it ends in heartbreak.
We waited nearly two decades for a run like this, and it ends with heartbreak that we haven’t felt in 18 years.
Much like 2006, we as a fanbase will look back on this run and find so many positives.
The Year of the Janitor. The emergence of Phillip Broberg. Games 6 and 7 against the Canucks. The Nuge game in Dallas. Winning the Western Conference at home. Three straight Stanley Cup Final wins.
But for now? Nothing but pain for a fan base that deserved more.

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