Oilers approaching Game 7 of Stanley Cup Finals like any other game

Edmonton Oilers
Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
25 days ago
The Oilers aren’t going to let the headlights of it being Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals get in their way.
While the stakes may be higher given it’s the last game of the season — no matter what happens — it’s not like they haven’t been in pressure cooker situations in these playoffs. After all, they were down 3-0 to the Florida Panthers in these Finals just last week.
And in the eyes of Oilers defenceman Mattias Ekholm, today is just another day in the office.
“I can only speak for myself, but I’m approaching it the way I approached Game 4 down 0-3,” he said Monday. “We have been in this position for three straight, this will be four straight games, so for us, nothing changes.
“I think if you blow this game up in your mind, you’re just going to be nervous and not play your game. Boring answer, but I’m trying to approach this like a game in February where, I guess, maybe you don’t have the headlights on this spot as much — just kind of do your normal routine.
“I’m going to go have my pre-game meal, I’m going to take a nap, and come back ready to go. Hopefully we’ll be able to come on the winning side tonight.”
Edmonton’s had their backs against the wall all season long. They were 3-9-1 when the coaching change happened in November, and after losing three of Kris Knoblauch’s first five games, they sat 30th in the NHL standings at American Thanksgiving.
They rattled off an eight-game winning streak after that, rising the tide to 22nd in the league and nine points back of a playoff spot. Three more losses followed before they went on a historic run, winning 16 straight games.
When the streak ended on Feb. 6th, 2024 — one win off of tying the all-time winning streak record — the Oilers sat third in the Pacific Division, five points up on a playoff spot.
“This is our sixth elimination game, so we’re used to being in this position,” said winger Zach Hyman Monday. “This is the first time we have the ability to win, which is an amazing opportunity, but all those games you play as if it’s a Game 7 because it’s your last game of the season.
“You just treat it the same.”
The playoffs weren’t easy, either. After beating the Kings in five games, they faced the No. 1 seed in the Pacific Division, beating the Vancouver Canucks in seven games. Then they faced the No. 1 seed from the Central Division in the Western Conference Finals, winning three straight games to secure that series in six games.
Then, it was a 3-0 deficit to the Panthers they’ve managed to fight back from to even get to where they are tonight.
“I don’t think our approach has changed at all,” said Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch Monday. “10 days ago we talked about when we were down 3-0 just one day at a time, enjoy the process. We’re enjoying the process, we’re enjoying where we are right now.
“We got a confident group and we’re just going to play this game like any other one and that’s about it.”

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.


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