G22+ Game Notes: Panthers look to complete Stanley Cup Final sweep over Oilers

Photo credit:© Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
1 month ago
Will the Stanley Cup be awarded on Saturday night in Edmonton? The Florida Panthers are seeking their first championship in team history and the Oilers are trying to live to fight another day.
1. This is the closest the Panthers have been to winning the Stanley Cup. It’s their third time in the Final and they won just one game across their two other appearances.
Florida came into the NHL as an expansion team for the 1993-94 season and went on a Cinderella run in their third season in the league. They were swept aside in four games by the Colorado Avalanche in the 1995-96 Stanley Cup Final and then saw zero playoff success for the next 25 years.
Between 1996-97 and 2020-21, the Panthers made the playoffs six times and lost in the first round each time. Over the past three seasons, Florida has seen more playoff wins than their first 27 seasons in the league combined.
They won the Presidents’ Trophy in 2021-22 and snapped their playoff series victory drought with a first-round series win over the Washington Capitals but were swept in the second round by the Tampa Bay Lightning. The following season, the Panthers beat the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Carolina Hurricanes in the playoffs before losing to the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final.
Florida’s rise from complete irrelevance to being one of the league’s elite organizations has been an incredible story. A Stanley Cup championship would validate the very impressive work done by the team’s front office.
2. The Oilers are looking to avoid becoming the first team in the salary cap era to be swept in the Stanley Cup Final. The last time that happened was when Ken Holland’s Detroit Red Wings swept the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals in back-to-back Finals in 1996-97 and 1997-98.
Teams that have gone up 3-0 in the Stanley Cup Final have gone on to win that series 27 of 28 times. The one team to pull off a successful comeback was the Toronto Maple Leafs, who beat the Detroit Red Wings in seven games after falling behind 3-0 in 1941-42. The Red Wings nearly got revenge on the Leafs a few years later, as they went down 3-0 and wound up losing in Game 7 of the 1944-45 Stanley Cup Final.
There are three other instances of NHL teams coming back from down 3-0 to win a series at earlier stages of the playoffs. The New York Islanders did so in the first round in 1974-75, the Philadelphia Flyers did so in the second round in 2009-10, and the L.A. Kings did so in the first round in 2013-14.
It’s not common but it’s also certainly not impossible. The NHL has seen more of these comebacks than the other two major North American professional sports leagues with best-of-seven playoff series. No NBA team has ever come back from down 3-0 and the only MLB team to do so was the Boston Red Sox in the 2004 American League Championship Series.
The Oilers pulling off a legendary comeback in the Stanley Cup Final would be fitting given the way their season has gone. They were in the basement of the league’s standings with a 2-9-1 record a month into the year and they wound up finishing with a 49-27-6 record thanks to eight- and 16-game winning streaks.
“There’s just a belief in this room,” Zach Hyman said. “Every one of these games we’ve felt like we’ve had a chance to win, so we’re going to take it one game at a time. And if there’s any team that can do this, it’s this one. I strongly believe that there’s something about this team. We don’t give up.”
“We’re disappointed that we’re in this situation. It is what it is, but we’ve got a lot to be optimistic about,” head coach Kris Knoblauch said. “We’ve gone on some quite astonishing rolls during the regular season. Obviously, it’s a little more difficult now with playing in the playoffs against Florida in the Stanley Cup Final, but I’m optimistic about the way we’ve played so far in this series.”
3. If the Oilers are going to beat the Panthers, their big guns are going to have to score.
Through the first three games of this series, Edmonton has scored only four goals and they came from Mattias Ekholm, Warren Foegele, Ryan McLeod, and Philip Broberg. Connor McDavid has three assists in the series but Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Zach Hyman, and Evan Bouchard have combined for only one point.
The team’s usually dominant power play has been completely shut down by the Panthers. After scoring on 37.3 percent of their opportunities in the first three rounds of this year’s playoffs, the Oilers have gone 0-for-10 on the power play against Florida.
Sergei Bobrovsky has been a game-changer for the Panthers in this series and will likely win the Conn Smythe Trophy if Florida wins the Stanley Cup. He’s turned aside 82 of 86 shots that the Oilers have thrown his way and his .953 save percentage is currently the best ever by a goaltender in the Stanley Cup Final.

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