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Oilers Need Superstars to Lead them like the Penguins’ Superstars did in 2009

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Jason Gregor
1 month ago
If the Oilers are going to come back and win the Stanley Cup, their best players have to lead them. It is the same for every team. Second-tier players must produce as well, but ultimately your stars are the leaders.
Moments after their 4-1 loss to Florida last night, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl made comments showing their leadership and their understanding of the situation. If they are going to win this series, they have to be the catalysts.
McDavid’s post-game comments exemplified how a leader should think.
“It’s exciting, it’s another opportunity for our group to come together and dig our way out,” said McDavid. “It’s supposed to be hard, it’s supposed to be difficult, and I’m excited to see what our group is made of. I’m excited to see our group come together, I’m excited to see us fight through adversity and I’m looking forward to people doubting us again with our backs against the wall.”
He added in a little of the “us against the world” mentality that teams often use to motivate themselves. Of course, some have doubted them, but there were also many who believed they were good. Now you look for anything to motivate you.
Draisaitl had a direct challenge to his team and himself. “We certainly can be better, and it starts with me,” he said. He must be better than he was in Game 2.
The Oilers’ top stars have no goals through two games. McDavid, Draisaitl, Zach Hyman, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Evan Bouchard have combined for two assists. I don’t care who their depth players are, they aren’t going to win many games with that little production from their top players. They know it, and I expect they will be much better in Game 3 and beyond.
The odds to win aren’t in their favour, but they don’t have to look far back in history to see teams who overcame 2-0 deficits and still won the Stanley Cup.

The 2009 Penguins…

Pittsburgh was led by Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The Penguins had lost the 2008 Cup Final to Detroit in six games. They returned to face the Red Wings again in 2009.
Through the first three rounds, Crosby had 14-14-28, while Malkin had 12-16-28. The next closest Penguins player was Bill Guerin with 7-7-14. Malkin and Crosby were their leaders and needed to produce in the Final if they wanted to win.
The Penguins had scored the most goals in the playoffs through the first three rounds. Offence was their strength, but in the first two games, they scored two goals.
Detroit won both games by a score of 3-1. They actually played the games on back-to-back nights, May 30th and 31st. Many felt the series was over. The defending champs were too experienced, disciplined, and deeper than the Penguins. Crosby had no points in the first two games. Malkin did have 1-1-2, but the Penguins’ high-powered offence had been shut down.
Their offence woke up on home ice. Malkin had three assists in their 4-2 victory. The Penguins didn’t dominate Game 3, in fact, they were outshot 29-21, but they buried their chances. Crosby picked up his first point of the series.
In Game 4, Crosby scored the game-winning goal midway through the third period and added an assist in the 4-2 victory. Their superstars led them back into the series.
Detroit blanked the Penguins 5-0 in Game 5, but the Penguins held home-ice advantage with a 2-1 victory in Game 6. Their depth guys chipped in Game 6 and Game 7 as Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy scored in Game 6 and then Max Talbot scored both goals in their 2-1 victory in Game 7. Malkin finished the final with eight points, 36 in the playoffs and won the Conn Smythe.
But it was Malkin and Crosby in Game 3 and Game 4 who got them back to even. Edmonton will need similar performances from its stars starting Thursday.


2011 Bruins…

The Bruins entered the Finals allowing the fewest goals/game at 2.50 and they had scored the second most, trailing only Tampa Bay. They didn’t have a superstar offensive star. David Krejci led them with 10 goals and 17 points after three rounds. Nathan Horton had 8-9-17, Patrice Bergeron was 4-11-15, and Brad Marchand had 6-6-12.
The Bruins were shutout 1-0 in a goaltending battle in Game 1. The Bruins outshot the Canucks 36-34, and Roberto Luongo and Tim Thomas were both great, until Raffi Torres scored the game-winner with 19 seconds remaining in regulation.
The Bruins, like the Oilers, had a lead in Game 2, but Vancouver tied the game in the third period and Alex Burrows scored his second of the game in overtime to give the Canucks a 2-0 lead. The Canucks had held the high-scoring Bruins to only two goals through two games.
Like the Penguins, the Bruins got a jolt from their home crowd. Vancouver had allowed the fewest goals in the NHL in the regular season and had averaged 2.40 goals/against through their first 20 playoff games. But then the Bruins lit them up for 12 goals in two games, defeating them 8-1 in Game 3 and 4-0 in Game 4 to send the series back to Vancouver tied two games apiece.
But Luongo found his game back home again and shut out the Bruins by a 1-0 score. Torres assisted on the Maxim Lapierre game-winner at the 4:35 mark of the third.
Back to Boston they went, and once again the Bruins’ offence lit up Luongo, winning 5-2. Luongo allowed three goals on eight shots and was pulled 8:35 into the first period.
The Bruins, like the Penguins, needed to win Game 7 on the road to complete the comeback and they did with a 4-0 victory. Tim Thomas made 37 saves, while Marchand and Bergeron each scored two goals.
It was one of the most unpredictable Finals in NHL history. The Bruins scored 16 goals and allowed only three in three home games. They scored two goals in the first three road games, before getting four in Game 7.

OILERS JUST NEED ONE WIN…

You will likely read and hear many suggest the series is over because the Panthers are too good. History in the salary cap era favours those comments. Teams who lost the first two games on the road are 2-10 in the Cup Final since 2006.
  • The 2006 Oilers lost both, and then lost in seven games.
  • The 2007 Ottawa Senators lost both, won Game 3, but lost in five games.
  • The 2008 Penguins lost both, won Game 3, but lost in six.
  • The 2009 Penguins’ comeback is outlined above.
  • The 2010 Philadelphia Flyers lost both, then won two at home before losing to Chicago in six games.
  • The 2011 Bruins are outlined above.
  • The 2014 New York Rangers lost both, then lost Game 3 at home, before losing to the LA Kings in five.
  • The 2016 San Jose Sharks lost both, won Game 3, but lost in six to the Penguins.
  • The 2017 Nashville Predators were down 2-0, won both home games, but then lost in six to Pittsburgh.
  • The 2021 Montreal Canadiens lost two on the road, lost Game 3 at home and then lost in five to Tampa Bay.
  • The 2022 Tampa Bay Lightning lost two, won Game 3 at home, but lost in six to Colorado.
  • The 2023 Florida Panthers lost both in Vegas, and won Game 3, before losing in five to the Golden Knights.
The Oilers’ only focus will be Game 3. Get a victory, and then look for another in Game 4, but if the 2024 Oilers want to emulate the 2009 Penguins, they will need their stars to be difference-makers on Thursday.
The crowd will be loud, raucous and enthusiastic and the Oilers have been quite good at home all season. They will need to use the crowd to their advantage and get Florida on their heels like they were often in Game 1.
McDavid and Draisaitl have wanted this stage for a long time. Let’s see how they perform.

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