3 KEYS: The Edmonton Oilers need to continue their Stanley Cup rebound

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Published Jun 18, 2024  •  3 minute read

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oilers art downtown edmontonDowntown Edmonton is pictured on Monday, June 17, 2024, the day before Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers. Photo by Kaylen Small /Postmedia

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This is it.

The Edmonton Oilers have a chance to show what they’re made of, facing elimination for the second straight game after falling behind 3-1 to the Florida Panthers in the Stanley Cup Final.

With the puck dropping on Game 5 at Amerant Bank Arena (6 p.m., CBC, Sportsnet), it is do-or-die once again for the Oilers, who need to avoid the same fate as the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA championships, which saw an eerily similar situation as the one currently playing out in the NHL.

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The Boston Celtics took a commanding 3-0 lead in that best-of-seven series before the Mavericks came to their senses and remembered who they were. For one game, at least, before Boston put it away in Game 5.

If the Oilers somehow pull this one off, they will find themselves one step closer to pulling off one of the biggest rebounds in Stanley Cup history.

Here are three keys for the Oilers heading into Game 5:

1. QUIET THE CROWD

We saw in Game 4 just how much of an advantage home ice can be when the fans in the stands get behind their team as one monstrous voice. The Oilers rode the wave of electricity that filled Rogers Place to an astonishing 8-1 win after scoring all of four goals over the first three games combined.

The thing is, fans in Florida also saw how much of a difference can be made, so the biggest factor in Game 5 down in Sunrise might very well be taking the crowd out of the equation early on.

And that means finding their offensive stride, and fast. The Oilers certainly don’t need eight more in this one, but they will need one more than the Panthers if they hope to return the series to Edmonton for what would no doubt be the craziest atmosphere Rogers Place has yet to see.

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2. GO IN GUNS A-BLAZIN’

And we’re not just talking about taking shots here. The bullets need to keep coming from Edmonton’s big guns if they have any hope of surviving to Game 6.

It was absolutely unacceptable how Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Evan Bouchard and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins — who sit No. 1-4 in playoff point scoring — were held without a single goal between the four of them over the first three games.

It took a shorthanded goal to open the floodgates on Edmonton’s offence last game, but the Big 4 might want to unholster themselves early in this one, because it’s not like they’re saving ammunition for anything else, at this point.

3. BE STU-PID GOOD IN NET

Forget for a second that Stuart Skinner has the weight of the world — or at least all of Canada, which hasn’t had a team win the Stanley Cup since 1993 — on his shoulders.

Sure, he’s only in his second year inside an NHL crease, but that hasn’t stopped the Oilers from putting all their proverbial eggs in his basket. He might not always be getting the results the fans want, but he has taken ridiculous strides from where he was a year ago with Edmonton’s early exit from the post-season picture in Round 2.

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It’s no state secret the Panthers are done licking their wounds after suffering their biggest beatdown of the playoffs and will come out looking for vengeance at the back of Edmonton’s net.

Skinner doesn’t have to save everything. But he does have to play consistent, mistake-free goaltending in order to give his team a chance at the win they so badly need. That means staying in his crease unless he has a very good reason not to.

Oh, and the odd huge stop here and there would only serve to bolster the rest of the Oilers lineup too, if he wouldn’t mind?

E-mail: [email protected]

On Twitter: @GerryModdejonge

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