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Corey Perry’s ‘whatever it takes to win’ attitude could help fuel Oilers this postseason

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Photo credit:© Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Sean Panganiban
1 month ago
It’s been over two months since the Edmonton Oilers signed Corey Perry. His quickness isn’t quite what it used to be, but Oil Country has witnessed reminders of his on-ice brilliance, like when he batted down the puck mid-air last game against the St. Louis Blues, went in all alone on Jordan Binnington, and nearly scored the go-ahead goal with four minutes left in the game.
Moreover, when the former Hart Trophy winner first signed in Edmonton, he talked about doing whatever it took to help the team win, stating on the “Oilers Now” show:
“When playoff time comes, the ice gets smaller, and I just want to win and I’ll do anything to help this team win.”
The playoffs haven’t even started yet, and so far down the stretch, Perry is practicing what he preached. He’s no longer the big point producer he once used to be, with only nine points in 28 games with the Oilers so far, but he’s gone the extra mile to try to make an impact, whether it’s on the scoresheet or with some ‘vintage Corey Perry’ tricks and tactics. That said, he’s proving to be a subtle leader down the stretch, which could have a huge ripple effect on his teammates this upcoming postseason.

Perry Has Been Fearless in Trading Punches to Help Rally Oilers

Perry is such a unique player in that he’s a former league MVP who at this stage of his career, isn’t afraid to mix it up physically when the moment calls for it. The veteran of over 1300 NHL games has dropped the gloves four times in an Oilers’ uniform, and there was a common denominator in his first three fights versus Marco Scandella of the Blues, Parker Wotherspoon of the Boston Bruins, and Mackenzie Weegar of the Calgary Flames —  the Oilers were trailing in the game, and he engaged in fisticuffs in attempt to turn the tide and spark his team.
Also, in his latest tilt in the game against the Winnipeg Jets on March 26, the game was tied, but to wake his team up, he took on a 6-foot-7 and 231-pound behemoth, Logan Stanley. He knew he wouldn’t win the fight, but he held on and skillfully dodged Stanley’s punches. Thereafter, in true Perry fashion, he skated to the penalty box and flashed a sly smirk, knowing the mission was accomplished: square off with the biggest challenger on the block, survive and try to light a fire under his teammates.
It seems like his plan paid off. In the second period, Brenden Dillon checked Perry heavily and almost sent him into the Jets’ bench. That action may have awoken a sleeping giant in Darnell Nurse, who hadn’t fought yet this season. The Oilers’ defender came to his teammate’s aid and took on Dillon, earning a superb takedown. After the altercation, Edmonton scored two goals within the next few minutes, ultimately winning 4-3 in overtime.
That said, Oilers’ TV host Tony Brar later posted a video of Perry heading over to the penalty box after Nurse’s fight, giving a glove tap in appreciation of him coming to his aid. That simple gesture is an indication of how tight-knit this Oilers’ squad truly is, which should give them confidence in knowing they have each other’s backs down the stretch and especially as things intensify in the playoffs.

Perry’s Making Contributions Both on and off the Ice

Additionally, since signing in Edmonton, Perry’s ‘win at all costs’ mentality has been evident through his ability to adapt to any role he’s given. He’s played up and down the lineup, from the fourth line to the first and notably found himself on the top line alongside other former Hart Trophy winners’ Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on Feb. 17, where he tallied a goal and an assist.
Yet, when he’s not scoring, he does little things on the ice that impact the game in subtle ways. An example of this was seen against his former team, the Anaheim Ducks on March 30th.
In the first period, he was battling with Troy Terry, held onto his stick a bit longer than he should have and received a penalty — a trick he does to annoy players and gets away with regularly. Anaheim failed to capitalize on their power play chance, and on Perry’s very next shift, he made a huge block off a Trevor Zegras shot in the slot, which may have prevented a goal. That said, the fact that a former league MVP is blocking shots against a team at the bottom of the standings should set a good example for the rest of his teammates. If he’s sacrificing his body, they should do the same when things start to heat up.
Moreover, while Perry has shown the effectiveness of his in-game tactics, we’ve also seen hints of his off-ice leadership, having said in an interview recently about potential line combinations, “You check your ego at the door, and it doesn’t matter where you play, how much you play, as long as it’s who’s winning. That’s all that matters when playoffs come around.” He added, “When playoffs come, when push comes to shove, it doesn’t matter who’s out there, as long as they’re getting the job done.”
In saying that, Perry has won at many levels, including the Memorial Cup (2005), World Juniors (2005), Stanley Cup (2007), Olympics (2010), World Championship (2016) and World Cup of Hockey (2016). When a player as accomplished as he is talks about checking your ego, it serves as a reminder to all his Oilers’ teammates that, in order to win a Cup like he has before, the team must come first. Forget about individual stats or who’s getting more ice time. In the playoffs, it’s about one thing — winning.
At 38 years old, having earned over $90 million in his career, the fact that he’s still dropping the mitts, using his savvy on-ice tactics, and overall, just doing whatever it takes to help his team win, is very admirable. The little extras he brings are exactly what the Oilers need, to go along with their dynamic goal scoring, and it may prove to be contagious among his teammates in the upcoming postseason.

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