What’s Going On In The Playoffs: The Panthers are two wins away from their first Cup

Photo credit:© Perry Nelson - USA Today
Ryley Delaney
1 month ago
The National Hockey League season could come to an end on Saturday.
There are just two teams remaining in the Stanley Cup Final, as Canada’s team – the Florida Panthers – are playing the Calgary Flames provincial rival, the Edmonton Oilers.
En route to their second consecutive Stanley Cup Final, the Panthers knocked off their state rivals, the Tampa Bay Lightning, before defeating the Boston Bruins and the Presidents’ Trophy winning New York Rangers.
On the other hand, the Oilers defeated the Los Angeles Kings in the first round for the third consecutive season. After a hard fought series against the Vancouver Canucks that went seven games, they defeated the best team in the Western Conference during the regular season, the Dallas Stars.
It all comes down to this, let’s see what happened in the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final.

Edmonton blanked in Game 1

In Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, the Oilers scored two goals on the power play in the first period, but registered 10 shots to the Stars’ 34.
Well, it happened to the Oilers in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals as they took 32 shots on Sergei Bobrovsky, with the netminder saving all of them. In the end, the Oilers had 13 high-danger scoring opportunities to the Panthers six in this game during five on five play. However, for the fourth time this postseason, Stuart Skinner allowed the goal on the first shot, allowing the Panthers to win 3-0.
Without question, the Oilers “deserved” to win this game, out shooting the Panthers 32-18 with many more high-danger scoring chances, but Bobrovsky stole this game.

Florida uno reversed the Oilers in Game 2 

The Oilers outplayed the Panthers in Game 1, but fell. In Game 2, it was the Panthers outplaying the Oilers, but picking up the win.
Chippy doesn’t even begin to describe the second game of the series. It started early when former Flame Sam Bennett took a run at Evan Bouchard, with the Oiler defencemen getting clipped in the leg by Bennett. Shortly after, Oilers Foegele was given a five and the gate for kneeing Eetu Luostarinen.
During the five minute power play, Oliver Ekman-Larsson also got a tripping penalty, leading to a four on four in which the Oilers scored their first goal of the Stanley Cup Final. This also happened to be the first goal Bobrovsky allowed through the five hole.
The Panthers would tie the game in the second period thanks to a Niko Mikkola goal, with the game being tied at one heading into the third. Bennett would take another run at an Oiler defencemen, Philip Broberg, but no penalty was called which helped the Panthers. Evan Rodrigues scored three minutes and 11 seconds into the final frame, the game-winning goal.
That didn’t stop the chippiness though, as Leon Draisaitl got a forearm up on Panthers’ captain, Aleksander Barkov, who missed the rest of the game. Draisaitl wasn’t suspended, and it seems like Barkov will be available for Thursday’s game.
On the ensuing power play, the Panthers scored with under 10 seconds left, ending the Oilers penalty kill streak of 34 kills. As far as I can tell in my research, the longest streak before that was the 2006 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim’s 34 kill streak in the 2006 playoffs.
Side note, as you may recall, they faced off against the Flames in the first round of that postseason, with the teams taking 87 combined penalties. Anaheim took 43 penalties, Calgary took 44 penalties. The Mighty Ducks’ streak started in Game 5 of that series.
The Panthers would ice the game with an empty net goal, leading Oilers’ centre Sam Carrick to spear Dmitry Kulikov in that region. This was the only discipline handed down by the Department of Player Safety from this game.
Funnily enough, the Oilers didn’t register a high-danger shot during five-on-five play. So far, the difference is that one team got caved in and won, while the other team did not.

Taking a look at stats

Game 3 on Thursday is a must win game for the Oilers, there’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it. In 84 Stanley Cup Finals in the seven-game format, only one team has ever comeback from a 3-0 deficit, the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Oilers’ chances of coming back from a 2-0 hole and winning it are already pretty slim according to history. In 84 Stanley Cup Finals, only five teams have overcome a 2-0 deficit to win the cup: The 1942 Maple Leafs, the 1966 Montréal Canadiens, the 1971 Montréal Canadiens, the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins, and the 2011 Boston Bruins.
That doesn’t mean they’ll go down without a fight. On top of the teams that have won the cup down 2-0, there have been six additional teams who went down 2-0 to force a Game 7. The most recent was the 2006 Oilers, but the 2003 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, the 1987 Philadelphia Flyers (against the Oilers), the 1965 Chicago Black Hawks, and the 1945 Detroit Red Wings have climbed back.
Interestingly, the last one, the 1945 Detroit Red Wings, were down 3-0 in the series against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Moreover, 54 Stanley Cup Finals have seen a team go down 2-0. There have been 20 Stanley Cup Finals that have ended in a sweep, but there hasn’t been a sweep in the finals since 1998. There have been 11 series that have finished in five games, four since the turn of the millennium with the most recent being the last postseason.
A competitive series, at least to me, is a six-game series. Aside from a sweep, which hasn’t happened since 1998, this is the most likely outcome for a Stanley Cup Final where a team goes down 2-0, as 13 teams have won at least two. Most recently was when the Tampa Bay Lightning won two in the 2022 Stanley Cup Final, but it’s happened six times since 2000.
Forcing a game seven has happened 10 times in Stanley Cup Final history, with the most recent being in 2011 when the Boston Bruins defeated the Vancouver Canucks in seven games. But wait, that doesn’t make sense, as there are five teams to win the cup after going down 2-0, and six teams to force a Game 7, where’d the other team go?
Well, if the Oilers wish to win the Stanley Cup on home ice, there has only been one other team in NHL history to go down 2-0, but to win the next four games. That would be the 1966 Montréal Canadiens, who actually lost the first two games on home ice, meaning they won in Detroit.
So with all that being said, there’s a good chance that the Florida Panthers win the Stanley Cup, but Thursday’s Game 3 will be a big determining factor if this series is competitive.
Thanks for reading! You can follow me on Twitter @Ryley_L_D.
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