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The Oilers of 2024 look like the Canadiens of 2021
Credit: Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Just before the Stanley Cup Final, The Athletic published an article on the failure of Canadian teams to reach the Stanley Cup Final over the past 30 years, to see if the tide might be turning.

When it came time to talk about the 2021 Habs, the Habs’ “fatal error” leading to defeat was, according to author Sean McIndoe, that the Habs weren’t a good team.

The journalist from The Athletic qualified his remarks by saying that this wasn’t exactly true for the Habs of 2021, but that they weren’t a powerhouse and that’s why he wrote his shocking sentence.

He then added that the Oilers of 2024, whom he saw winning the Cup before the start of the final, didn’t have that problem.

He then attacked the other teams (2004 Flames, 2006 Oilers, 2007 Senators, 1994 and 2011 Canucks) without saying they were bad teams like the Habs. The implication was that the Habs were the worst Canadian team to have played in the finals since 1994.

We understand what he means about the Habs in the sense that they weren’t a powerhouse like the Lightning, for example. But where he’s wrong is that the Oilers of 2024 are as deep in the pockets as the Habs of 2021, to use his way of thinking.

Forget the aspect of seeing a Canadian club win or not: the Stanley Cup Final is flat as hell. Not only do the games not keep us on the edge of our seats because the Panthers are too good, but the games are played with 158 working days between each duel.

At least the finals won’t end too late, and both clubs will have time to catch their breath before the draft, scheduled for two weeks from now.

Just because the Oilers coach says, after yesterday’s 4-3 loss, that his club has shown it can beat the Panthers doesn’t mean he’s right or that it makes the final a good series. After all, Kris Knoblauch is wrong in my eyes on this one.

It’s clear right now that the Panthers are built to win the Cup. The Oilers are sorely lacking in depth (Guillaume Latendresse isn’t afraid to say it), and it’s shown in the last three games.

No one can score on the Oilers’ big guns, who definitely haven’t “learned to lose” like the Panthers did last year.

But it’s more than that. The Oilers’ defense is horrible and yesterday, no one looked good. Depth is non-existent in Edmonton and it’s Connor McDavid who has to do it all alone.

He’s left to his own devices, and clearly the recipe isn’t working, as he’s the only Oilers player with more than one point in the final. Even though he has quality chances, he’s the only one making them… and he hasn’t broken through Sergei Bobrovsky’s wall.

Because there’s that, too: the goalie factor.

While the Bob is already being talked about as the potential playoff MVP on Saturday night, Stuart Skinner is proving that he’s back to being the bad-ass goalie we know he can be. He’s stopping at nothing in the final, and it’s sinking his team.

Had the Oilers known, they might have offered the Habs the right price to uproot one of their goalies at the deadline, no?

Skinner may believe that “if there’s one team that can do what the 1942 Maple Leafs did and go from 0-3 to 4-3 in the final, it’s us” and that his club isn’t dead, but let’s just say it’s going to take a miracle to make it happen.

Is it impossible? No. But I wouldn’t bet a single cent on that scenario.

In a Stanley Cup Final that’s not living up to expectations, nothing seems likely to save the Oilers. Unless Edmonton’s saviour resurfaces?

A word must also be said about Corey Perry, who is on course to lose a fourth final in five years with four different clubs. I wonder how discouraged he must be right now.

Actually, I don’t wonder: it shows.

His 2007 ring is no consolation for the fact that for the past five seasons, he always seems to lose. Basically, when a Cup final involves Corey Perry and a Florida team, he can’t seem to win.

Yesterday’s horrible game may well have been his last. What a legacy he’ll leave the NHL…


– A machine.

– Nick Suzuki had three points in the Cup Final in 2021. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, together, have three points from three games.

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