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Oilers’ Corey Perry is hitting his playoff peak when it matters most in Stanley Cup Final

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Sean Panganiban
29 days ago
Edmonton Oilers’ Corey Perry became the first-ever player in NHL history to play in the Stanley Cup Final with five different teams when he suited up against the Florida Panthers in Game 1.
After signing with Edmonton in late January, he played in almost half of the regular season games, and many in Oil Country, who had despised him for being such a menace when he played against the Oilers, started to appreciate him for that exact reason.
He’d stir the pot with agitating antics, like pulling on players’ sticks to throw them off their game, fighting the opposition to swing momentum—like when he took on the 6-foot-7 Logan Stanley of the Winnipeg Jets down the playoff stretch—and to top it off, he also scored at a 17-goal pace during the regular season.
That said, there was a sense that his ‘whatever it takes to win’ attitude and the intangibles he showed during the regular season would intensify in the playoffs. Yet, that wasn’t the case. Initially, his postseason performance was less impactful than originally hoped.
But the future Hall of Famer has won at every level, and players of that ilk know how to step it up when the pressure is on. Perry has dialled it up over the last two games in the Stanley Cup Finals, including scoring his biggest goal while donning the orange and blue.

Perry’s Initial Playoff Impact Was Underwhelming

Perry played in all five games in the opening series against the Los Angeles Kings, averaging 12:33 minutes. However, he didn’t register any points, but because the Oilers won the series in five games, his lack of point production wasn’t necessarily a glaring issue.
In the second round, his ice time dipped, averaging 9:15 minutes in the series against the Vancouver Canucks. We witnessed likely the biggest display of his agitating ways in the postseason during Game 4 of that series when he held his stick up to Brock Boeser’s face in a ‘You shall not pass’ sort of way. However, after the Oilers lost Game 5 and faced elimination, head coach Kris Knoblauch pulled the 39-year-old, still without a point then, from the lineup and replaced him with Sam Carrick.
Edmonton forced a Game 7 and won, with Perry remaining out of the lineup. In the Western Conference Final, the Oilers split Games 1 and 2 against the Dallas Stars. In Game 3, Edmonton had an early 2-0 lead but unravelled, allowing three goals in under five minutes in the second period, ultimately losing 5-3.
Knoblauch shook up the lines for Game 4, bringing Perry back into the lineup after sitting out for five games. The Oilers stumbled out of the gate with two quick goals by the Stars in the first five minutes. However, a turnaround sparked by the trio of Ryan McLeod, Perry, and Darnell Nurse, turned the tide.
Nurse carried the puck into the zone, and passed to Perry who shot the puck, and McLeod buried the rebound past Jake Oettinger, with Perry picking up his first point of the playoffs. That said, that goal was instrumental in the Oilers’ turnaround, kickstarting the comeback en route to a 5-2 victory and Perry has been a mainstay in the lineup since that game.

Perry Has Stepped up in Oilers’ Do-or-Die Games

Despite recording only one assist before Game 4 against the Panthers, the former Rocket Richard Trophy winner has elevated his game in the Oilers’ most recent do-or-die situations, which is one of the reasons they brought him on board.
In Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals, Perry showcased his former Hart Trophy-winning hands with the Oilers down 3-0 in the series. He carried the puck into the zone, lured two Panthers towards him, and quickly made a nifty backhand pass to Connor McDavid, who then fed Dylan Holloway for an easy tap-in goal, contributing to the 8-1 victory.
Perry then carried that momentum into Game 5, where he scored the game-winning goal. At the tail end of the Oilers’ power play, McDavid, who had been on the ice for nearly two minutes by that time, skated gingerly toward the Panthers’ zone. The Oilers’ captain danced around four Panthers as if Will Smith’s song “Miami” was playing in his head and put on a stickhandling masterclass. He then drew all the penalty killers towards him and swiftly passed the puck to Perry, who made no mistake and buried it past Sergei Bobrovsky.
The play will be on the highlight reels for many years to come, and despite scoring the goal, Perry’s contribution will be overshadowed, rightfully so, by McDavid’s magic. Nevertheless, the tally stood as the game-winner, a proud moment Perry can hang his hat on.
Additionally, an interesting tidbit about the goal, pointed out by TSN’s Ryan Rishaug on the ‘Got Yer Back’ Podcast, is that Nurse deserves some credit for it. The Oilers’ D-man was initially supposed to go on the ice but recognized the developing play where McDavid was rushing the puck. He quickly hollered down the bench for a forward to be sent out instead of him. Perry, the former 50-goal scorer, then stealthily hopped over and joined the play, scoring the eventual game-winner.
That said, despite Perry’s most impactful postseason contribution arriving fashionably late, in the Stanley Cup Finals, it proved to be a game-changer. What’s more, Perry said a memorable quote down the playoff stretch, and it’s even more relevant now that most of the postseason has been played:
“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.”
Perry, a future Hall of Famer, has practiced what he preached. He was a healthy scratch for five games, played up and down the lineup, and his minutes have varied throughout the playoffs, yet he hasn’t complained. Because Perry got the job done in Game 5 with his game-winner, the Oilers and Panthers will be battling it out in front of an epically loud crowd at a packed Rogers Place for what will be an unforgettable Game 6.
With that in mind, what are your thoughts on Perry’s performance in the playoffs and should the Oilers bring him back next year?

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