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2024 Stanley Cup Final

Paul Maurice Says Stanley Cup Final Pressure Now Even. Is It?



Florida panthers
Paul Maurice of the Florida Panthers speaks to the media in Edmonton on Thursday night before Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. // Photo courtesy @FlaPanthers Video

After the Florida Panthers have lost the past two games of the Stanley Cup Final after winning the first three games of the series, the pressure must be solely on the boys from the beach.


The Panthers would have loved to wrap up the Cup Final last Saturday night in Edmonton — yet here they are.

The Oilers went down 3-0 in the series but have won the past two games.

The Panthers are now back in Edmonton following a second 6-hour flight to north Alberta, one they would have been cool with not making.

Is coach Paul Maurice upset about that?

Not surprisingly, the guy who talked about a Game 7 weeks ago when this series first started is not.

Maurice has been coaching in the NHL, for the most part, since taking over the soon-to-be relocated Hartford Whalers some 30 years ago.

This is his third trip to the dance and second since he guided the Carolina Hurricanes to the Final in 2002.

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When asked about having to return to Edmonton, Maurice said he would do this over and over again.

He just wants a chance at this thing.

“Would you take this? I’d cut your arm off for this Dan, this opportunity,’’ Maurice said in response to a question from Dan Rosen of about the Panthers coming back to Edmonton.

“At the start of the game, you’d say ‘no’ and at the end of the game, you’d say, ‘Hell, yeah. Let’s do it.’ It’s the sacrifice I’m willing to make, but you get to pick the arm.”

Florida won the first three games of this series, leaving the Oilers in the muck.

As he hoped, coach Kris Knoblauch’s team did not cave in but played with pure desperation in Game 4 to avoid the sweep.

The Oilers then returned to South Florida and won 5-3 in Game 5 to ‘drag’ the Panthers back to Alberta.

Rosen’s question to Maurice was basically, ‘You must hate being back here,’ because he should.

The Panthers could have won this a couple of days ago.

For a reason, the Stanley Cup is called the hardest trophy to win in sports.

Edmonton did not back down from the challenge, and the Panthers did not expect them to.

But, down 3-0, the Oilers were able to play fast and loose to get back into the series.

They have done that.

There is pressure on the Panthers, but the Oilers played themselves back into this thing.

It is on them as well.

“When you have nothing to lose, there’s a freedom to that. There’s also a danger to it,’’ Maurice said.

“There’s a great line in one of those cheesy movies, the most dangerous man in the world is the guy that has nothing to lose, that idea. Then when you have something to protect sometimes, you feel the pressure to protect it. So there’s an evening out of this series now.

“I’m not trying to put it on them. We’ll take all of it, feel free. But the stake is there now more for both teams when it was just there for us. The goal is closer now for them, and now that part evens out. I believe it.’’

Game 6 is tonight.

The Panthers sound ready.

The Cup is on the line for the Panthers — and the Oilers want to keep this thing going.


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