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Stanley Cup Final Edmonton Oilers vs Florida Panthers Mid-Series Recap

We at Last Word have been thoroughly examining all the playoff series to this point, and of course, the Stanley Cup is no exception. Through three games of the NHL’s Stanley Cup Final series, there has been two recurring themes. The first is that the Florida Panthers goaltender is really good, and he likes to throw poke checks. The second is that Connor McDavid is also very good. Currently, the Florida Panthers are favourite to win the Stanley Cup at -2200 to go along with their 3-0 series lead against the Oilers. Let’s take a look at how we got to this point in the Stanley Cup Final series.

The Florida Panthers Lead the Edmonton Oilers 3-0 in Games in the Stanley Cup Final Series

Game 1 was the Oilers to win, and they let it get away. They badly outplayed the Panthers. The Oilers outshot the Panthers 32-18 in the game, yet failed to solve the Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, losing the game 3-0. Next, Game 2 was what we thought we were in for in this classic East vs West mentality of the Stanley Cup Final, a war. There were players, such as Darnell Nurse or Eetu Luostarinen in and out of the game with various ailments. Also, players were playing aggressively resulting in penalties, a game ejection to Warren Foegele, and a fine to Sam Carrick. Perhaps the Oilers could’ve use Corey Perry in the lineup, and that’s what Head Coach Kris Knoblauch was thinking too. However, it wasn’t to be as the Oilers lost Game 3 to the Panthers last night.

The Oilers battled hard in Game 3, and did make the game very interesting on the scoreboard. But on the heels of two Connor McDavid, third period assists, they just couldn’t find a way to get one more and tie the game at four to force overtime. Those assists give McDavid 29 in the playoffs, which is only two behind the record set by Wayne Gretzky of 31. Conversely, this isn’t about individual statistics, this about wanting to win the Cup.

Impact on the Edmonton Oilers on the Series So Far

One major impact to the Edmonton Oilers was the injury to Evander Kane. Kane is one of the great playoff performers on the Edmonton Oilers. He does only have eight points in 20 games this post-season, but that is good for seventh on the team in scoring. Furthermore, having him miss the first game of this year’s playoffs hurt the Oilers in Game 3 against the Panthers. His speed and toughness makes him a difference maker any time he hits the ice. If the Oilers can amazingly come back from this 3-0 series deficit, everyone, including Kane if he gets back into the lineup, needs to play their best hockey.

Players Leading the Charge for the Florida Panthers

On the other hand, one reason that the Florida Panthers deserve to be in the position they find themselves in is the Conn Smythe Trophy worthy performance of their goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. Bobrovsky has been standing tall for the Panthers. He has continuously been making big saves against all the Oilers top players. He is carrying a .953 SV% to go along with one shutout in the three games of the Stanley Cup Final series thus far.

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At this stage, it just seems as though the Panthers, led by their captain Aleksander Barkov, are just too deep and strong of a team to be any match for the Oilers, especially being up three games to none. There was some concern that Barkov was injured. That was after taking an elbow to the cheek from Leon Draisaitl in Game 2. The Panthers captain left the game at that point and didn’t return. In contrast, he made sure he came back with vengeance. He chose to do so care of the scoreboard variety. He had a goal and an assist last night, which gives him 21 points through 20 games this post-season. If it weren’t for Bobrovsky’s starring role between the pipes, Barkov may very well  be walking away with a Conn Smythe award in another parallel universe.

With all this in mind, it is difficult to think that the Oilers will lose Game 4 on home ice. Furthermore, this would be the first Stanley Cup Final series sweep since 1998 if the Oilers cannot get it done in Game 4 against the favourite Panthers. And if the Oilers are going to show any signs of life in this series, they need to step up and fast. Game 4 goes Saturday night from the Northern Alberta capital.

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Main photo: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports


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