Florida Panthers and Edmonton Oilers Go West for Stanley Cup Finals Game 3

After two games in Florida and two wins for the Florida Panthers, the Stanley Cup Finals moves the 2,543 miles to Alberta, Canada, and the home of the Edmonton Oilers. The distance is the furthest between two teams in a Stanley Cup Finals in history, topping the record from 2011, when the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks played for the Cup.

History also separates these two teams. The Oilers were founded in 1972, and they have won five Stanley Cups. The Panthers came into existence 21 years later, and have never won the Cup. One other big difference between these two is the likelihood that Florida is going to finish this month on top of the hockey world.

When teams begin the Finals with a 2-0 lead, they are 49-5. The last team to come back from a 2-0 deficit was those 2011 Bruins. Before that, the comebacks were the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Detroit Red Wings in 2009, the Montreal Canadiens over the Chicago Black Hawks in 1971, the Canadiens vs. the Red Wings in 1966, and the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Red Wings in 1942.

Can Edmonton add its name to the list and end 31 years of Canadian Stanley Cup frustration?

If Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky continues to play like he has, the answer is no. He has allowed just one goal in the two games, and that came in a 4-on-4 situation. When the teams are at full strength, the Panthers defense, led by Bobrovky, have shut the door.

A three-time All-Star and two-time Vezina Trophy winner (best goaltender), Bobrovsky is the betting favorite to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, given to the NHL postseason MVP. He is paying -200.

Connor McDavid did assist on the Edmonton goal in the first period of Game 2, but otherwise he has been held scoreless by the Panthers defense. McDavid managed just three shots on goal in Game 2, and his odds to win the Conn Smythe Trophy have moved to +500.

Game 3 Needs for Edmonton

The Oilers are the favorites in Game 3, paying -135 on the moneyline. A bet on the Panthers pays +115. During the regular season, the Oilers were 28-9-4 at Rogers Place in Edmonton. In nine playoff games at home, they’ve won six and lost three.

The most important thing to note is that at home in these playoffs, they’ve scored goals. In three home games against the Los Angeles Kings in the first round, Edmonton scored 15 goals. Against Vancouver in the next round, the Oilers scored 11 goals in three games. In three home games in their Conference Finals win against the Dallas Stars, Edmonton scored 10 times. If they can get that kind of production in Game 3 on Thursday night, they have a chance to mount a comeback. If they can’t find the net, and instead fall behind 3-0, they are cooked. Only once in Stanley Cup Finals history has a team come back from a 3-0 deficit – the 1942 Maple Leafs.

A 2-1 comeback isn’t nearly as difficult, with the Oilers themselves having accomplished the feat seven times in team history, and twice in these playoffs. They trailed the Canucks 2-1 in the second round of the playoffs, and they were behind the Stars 2-1 in the Conference Finals.

Just get that one win on Thursday, and everything changes. Lose in Game 3, and they can begin to make off-season plans.

Oddsmakers aren’t giving up on the Oilers. They are underdogs at +360 to win the Stanley Cup. But those odds aren’t nearly as long as the actual percentage of 0-2 teams that have come back to win. You’re also getting +115 on McDavid to score a goal in Game 3, and -125 to get a point.

If he gets going, so will the Oilers, and so will this series.

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