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Panthers’ head coach Paul Maurice on Game 6: ‘There are different emotions for both teams but they’re equally strong’

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Photo credit:© Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
1 month ago
For the third game in a row, the Florida Panthers have the Stanley Cup within their reach.
They won the first two games of the Finals in Florida and then took a commanding 3-0 series lead when the series shifted back to Edmonton. Since then, though, the Oilers have won back-to-back games and are now a home victory in Game 6 away from knotting the series at 3-3.
Paul Maurice has coached a lot of games in the National Hockey League — 1,849 in the regular season and 135 in the playoffs, to be exact — but this is his first time trying to close out a team in the Stanley Cup. His Panthers lost to the Vegas Golden Knights in five games last summer and his Carolina Hurricanes were dropped in five by the Detroit Red Wings back in 2002.
What has he learned throughout the uncharted territory of seeing the Oilers slowly claw their way back into the series? To continue taking things one game at a time.
“Order the emotions and get your priorities correct,” Maurice said when speaking to the media ahead of Game 6 on Friday. “I thought we played a heck of a game in Game 5. That was structutrally as close to our game as we’ve played, it’ll be training camp video. Put the game first.”
The Oilers have been in Game 7 mode since the Panthers rolled into Edmonton and picked up a 4-3 victory in Game 3. That’s nothing new for a team that started off the season with a 2-9-1 record and sat in the basement of the league’s standings after one month of play, but for the Panthers, the goal is to keep things consistent each game.
“First I would need to know how I would treat the Game 7 differently than a Game 6 or a Game 5,” Maurice said when asked if the team was treating Friday like it was Game 7. “I don’t feel I would bring something different into the room that we need to play two games tonight. The conversation prior to puck drop is strictly hockey.”
For the last two games, the pressure has all been on Florida. They’re the team one win away from earning their first Stanley Cup in team history, while just about everyone counted the Oilers out after the Panthers won Game 3. But now that the series is at 3-2 and the Oilers are on home ice, Maurice said that the pressure has started to equalize for both sides.
“The pressure is leveling based on what one team has to lose and what one team has to gain,” Maurice said. “There are different emotions for both teams but they’re equally strong. It’ll be a loud building tonight, probably louder than the first two games, but we’ve been in loud buildings.”
The Panthers clinched their series victories this year over the Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins, and New York Rangers on home ice but they were road warriors during last season’s playoff run. They took down the Bruins in Game 7 in Boston and then finished off the Maple Leafs in Toronto in Game 5 in the second round.
“There’s no day dreaming,” Maurice said. “It’s all about getting the team prepared properly.”

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