Bobrovsky gets a day off from practice, Perry not done yet and the Cup will be on the move again

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — On the next-to-last day of the NHL season, Florida goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky wasn’t on the ice for practice.

The Panthers are sure that’s a good thing.

Bobrovsky was a serious Conn Smythe Award candidate at one point in this Stanley Cup Final that ends with Game 7 on Monday night, with Florida winning the first three games and Edmonton basically rendered silent by the Panthers’ goaltender. But in the last three games, Edmonton’s offense has exploded and Bobrovsky’s numbers look horrific — a 5.06 goals-against average, a .793 save percentage.

“It’s definitely not his fault,” Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk said. “I think that’s up to us to tighten up defensively, get off to better starts. We’ve been trailing in each of the last three games, which might open you up a little bit and cost you more chances against. So, we have to be a lot better in front of him. And we will tomorrow. It’s definitely, definitely not his fault. Absolutely not.”

Bobrovsky has a very regimented schedule and won’t take the ice every day in the playoffs, whether it’s Round 1 or the last off day before the last game of Round 4. His plan is his plan and he sticks to that plan.

Panthers coach Paul Maurice said he thought Bobrovsky looked solid in Game 6, when Florida lost 5-1 — though two of those goals were empty-netters.

“We were kind to him; we didn’t give him a shorthanded breakaway to start the game,” Maurice said. “I thought that was good of us. We cut down on those for him and gave him a chance. We’ll try that again tomorrow.”

Perry’s Last Stand?

Veteran winger Corey Perry, who turned 39 midway through Edmonton’s playoff run, does not expect Game 7 to be his final one in the NHL.

“I’ve got more in me,” Perry said. “I’ve got lots more in me: five more years. What’s so funny? I feel like I’m 25.”

Perry won the Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007 and is the only player to reach the final with five different organizations. He is one Florida victory away from losing in the final four times in the past five seasons; he lost with Dallas in 2020, Montreal in ’21 and Tampa Bay in ’22.

The 28th pick in 2003, Perry is one of just a handful of players left from that deep, talented draft, along with goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and defensemen Brent Burns and Ryan Suter, plus winger Zach Parise, who may be calling it a career.

“There’s only a couple of us left,” Perry said. “I just love playing, so we’ll see where it goes. … I’m going to keep playing until they cut my skates off.”

Only Tarasenko

Florida forward Vladimir Tarasenko is the only player on either team who has played in a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final.

He had an assist in St. Louis’ title-clinching win at Boston in the 2019 series.

RNH Good To Go

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is good to go for the Oilers in Game 7 after getting a maintenance day off practice Sunday, coach Kris Knoblauch said. Nugent-Hopkins is their longest-tenured player, having been drafted with the first pick exactly 13 years ago Monday.

“It would take a lot to take Ryan out of the lineup,” Knoblauch said.

Evander Kane, who has been scratched while dealing with a sports hernia since Game 3, is an option to play, according to Knoblauch, though it would be a surprise if any changes are made to an Edmonton lineup that has won three in a row.

The Cup’s Schedule

The NHL says that if Edmonton wins Game 7, the Stanley Cup — along with “Keeper of the Cup” Phil Pritchard and his Hockey Hall of Fame colleague Craig Campbell — will fly back to Alberta with the Oilers after the game for celebrations.

If Florida wins, they’ll stick around in South Florida for a few days to be with the trophy for whatever celebrations might happen. But the Cup won’t be staying for long. It’ll be at the draft in Las Vegas this weekend.

What happens after that isn’t clear. The Cup could be returned to the winning team for the continuation of celebrations or could go to Montreal for engraving first before the winning team gets it back.

History Says

If history is any guide, the game-winning goal on Monday night will come with 5:53 left in the second period and be scored by either a center or a left wing.

That’s the average time and result of the eventual Cup-clinching goals in the 17 previous Game 7s in Stanley Cup Final history. There hasn’t been a third-period game-winner in a Game 7 of the title series since 1971, when Montreal’s Henri Richard beat Chicago’s Tony Esposito.

There have been two Game 7s in the title series that have gone to overtime, both won by Detroit: Pete Babando scored 8:31 into the second overtime to beat the New York Rangers in 1950, and Tony Leswick scored 4:29 into OT to beat the Montreal Canadiens in 1954.

Centers have the most Game 7 Cup final game-winners with six, followed by left wings with five, right wings with three and defensemen with three.

Home Vs. Road

Road teams have won the last three Game 7s in the Stanley Cup Final (St. Louis over Boston in 2019, Boston over Vancouver in 2011 and Pittsburgh over Detroit in 2009).

But all-time, home teams still have a 12-5 edge. The home winners: Carolina beat Edmonton in 2006, Tampa Bay beat Calgary in 2004, New Jersey beat Anaheim in 2003, Colorado beat New Jersey in 2001, the New York Rangers beat Vancouver in 1994, Edmonton beat Philadelphia in 1987, Montreal beat Chicago in 1965, Toronto beat Detroit in 1964, Detroit beat Montreal in 1954 and 1955, Detroit beat the Rangers in 1950 and Toronto beat Detroit in 1942.

The other two road winners: Montreal over Chicago in 1971 and Toronto over Detroit in 1945.

2 Might Do It

Teams that score two goals or more in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final are 17-3. Teams that score one goal (or zero, obviously) are 0-14.

There have been seven different final scores in Game 7 title-series history. A breakdown: 4-0 (three times), 4-1 (once), 4-3 (once), 3-1 (five times), 3-2 (twice), 3-0 (once) and 2-1 (four times).

Game 7 Pasts

The Oilers are 8-4 all-time in Game 7, 4-3 on the road. The Panthers are 2-1 all-time in Game 7, 0-1 at home — losing in 2012.

And neither coach has lost a Game 7 — Florida’s Paul Maurice is 4-0, Edmonton’s Kris Knoblauch is 1-0 after the Oilers ousted Vancouver on the road in Round 2 last month.

Game 1,400

Monday’s game will be the 1,400th and last of the NHL season. It will tie the second-most games played in NHL history; last season also saw exactly 1,400 contests.

The record for a season is 1,401 — set in 2021-22.

More Hockey, Maybe

Believe it or not, the hockey season might not end Monday night.

The NHL season will be over — but the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup Finals are still going on, with Game 6 of the series between the Hershey Bears and the Coachella Valley Firebirds set for Monday night in Pennsylvania.

If the Firebirds win Monday — the Bears lead that series 3-2 — then Game 7 would be Wednesday at Hershey. Either way, it’ll be a quick departure to a new job for Coachella Valley coach Dan Bylsma, the coach of the 2009 Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. He’s taking over as the next coach of the Seattle Kraken.

The Firebirds are Seattle’s AHL affiliate.


AP NHL playoffs: and

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