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2024 Stanley Cup Final

Oilers Believed They Could Force a Game 7. Here They Are



Oilers game 7
Florida defenseman Gus Forsling watches as Zach Hyman celebrates his goal in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final on Friday night in Edmonton. (Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire)

The Florida Panthers succeeded in one major objective Friday night: They kept Connor McDavid off the score sheet.

No. 97 didn’t even record a shot on goal.

And, it did not matter.

Aside from shutting down McDavid, the Panthers did little else right in their Game 6 loss. 

There were missed defensive assignments, a futile power play, and the bad luck of having a goal pulled off the board for an offside.

Gus Forsling, who is probably the most responsible of all Florida defensemen, committed a cardinal no-no by shooting one right into the pads of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins which resulted in the Zach Hyman breakaway goal.

Forsling had one of his worst games, finishing minus-3.

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The Oilers’ rattling off three straight wins after going down 3-0 in the Stanley Cup Final is impressive, but this team has bounced back all season. 

Since Kris Knoblauch took over as coach on November 12, the Oilers were the top team in the league, posting a 46-18-5 record.

The Oilers had two losing streaks of three games after Knoblauch became the coach. 

These were followed by win streaks of eight and sixteen games.

There were five winning streaks of three games or more during Knoblauch’s tenure.

“I know we surprised a lot of people, but I don’t think we surprised anybody in the room,” Knoblauch said. “We felt we can do this. We put on winning streaks before.

“We felt early in the series down three. We could have won two of those in our opinion. We thought we played well enough to win those, and they just didn’t go our way. Now we’re just playing. Backs up against the wall. We’ve been written off many times throughout the season.”

Hyman, who has been hot in the past three games after going pointless in the first three, said his team never lost confidence.

“We’ve been in it a bunch,” Hyman said. “Obviously, the moment gets bigger every game you go further, but it’s justanother elimination game. Our backs are against the wall…We’re comfortable playing in these games. I think we proven we can play in them, and we played in a bunch of them.”

Between now and Monday, we will hear every hockey cliché, written or spoken.

Momentum, pressure, and history will be at the forefront despite any denials by either side.

The Panthers never wanted it this way, but it is now winner-take-all.

The year 1942 has been drummed into them as the only time an NHL team had a 3-0 Final lead and lost.

They do not want to be remembered for matching that dubious accomplishment.

Given the many expiring contracts, this team will have a different look next year, but it will not necessarily be stronger. 

This may be the last chance for the current cast.

The two most essential buzzwords now are “amnesia” and “desperation.”

Don’t dwell on past failures and play like there’s no tomorrow — because there is no tomorrow.

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