Home Sports A mind-boggling comeback has set up NHL’s biggest game in 82 years

A mind-boggling comeback has set up NHL’s biggest game in 82 years

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A mind-boggling comeback has set up NHL’s biggest game in 82 years
<intervalo><una clase="enlace " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/players/6743/" datos-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" datos-ylk="slk:Connor McDavid;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Connor McDavid</a> could win the Stanley Cup in the arena where he first entered the NHL. </span><span>Photo: Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports</span>” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/.bkbyQ_ncxuKN5_UvJ669A–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/the_guardian_765/513940b5d9265688dd c4eacc47575113″ data-src =”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/.bkbyQ_ncxuKN5_UvJ669A–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/the_guardian_765/513940b5d9265688ddc4eacc 47575113″/><button class=

No NHL team has come back from 3-0 down to win a Stanley Cup Final since the Toronto Maple Leafs did it against the Detroit Red Wings in April 1942. Now, 82 years later, the Edmonton Oilers can change that story. On Monday night on the edge of the Everglades, the Oilers will face the Florida Panthers in Game 7 and try to win their fourth straight game to take the Cup and become the first Canadian NHL champions since the Montreal Canadiens in 1993. In Oilers fashion, the game will most likely be crowned one of the NHL’s all-time greats, or at least one of the most memorable in league history. And the Oilers captain, a generational talent, will have returned to the place where he began his career with the team.

June 26, 2015 was a Friday and there was a buzz at the BT&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, home (still under a different name) of the Panthers. It was NHL draft night, and the presumed No. 1 pick was an 18-year-old from north Toronto who had lit up the Ontario Hockey League for three years and led Canada to a World Junior Championship the previous winter. . Connor McDavid had been playing at another level his entire life, being allowed to skate at age six with the nine-year-olds and being granted “exceptional status” to enter the OHL at age 15, a year early, where he became the most decorated player in league history.

Related: A Canadian team has not won the Stanley Cup in more than 30 years. Does it matter?

The Oilers, on the other hand, were coming off another dismal season. They had finished second to last in the Western Conference. By 2015, the Oilers had become something of a perennial draft joke. The team was picked first overall in 2010, 2011 and 2012, seventh overall in 2013 and then third overall again in 2013, each a reflection of Edmonton’s poor performance. No matter how many draft picks the Oilers added to the roster, they found themselves back at or near the bottom of the league time and time again. But of course, here was McDavid. Could it finally be the answer?

“I think my expectations exceed any of what anyone else puts on me,” McDavid told the Globe and Mail after the Oilers selected him first overall. “I just have to make sure I’m playing my game. If I meet my expectations, chances are I will meet everyone else’s too.”

Those expectations were very high. Dubbed the savior of the Oilers, he received the nickname “McJesus”, a nickname he has kept thanks to his divine moves on the ice and his outstanding goals. But a savior carries the weight of a town, and McDavid has carried the Oilers’ history since draft day. The story of the team’s Cup victories in the 1980s, the defeat in 2006 and the many bad years that followed. Not to mention the yoke of a guy named Wayne Gretzky.

McDavid walked into what was, on paper, a talented clubhouse. Thanks to the top picks from previous years, the Oilers had guys like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Darnell Nurse and the man they had drafted the year before, Leon Draisaitl. But the Oilers were “a mismanaged group of young stars who can’t burn any hotter than the dumpster fire in which they burn,” one NHL columnist scoffed a few months before McDavid was drafted. Things didn’t fall into place right away. The Oilers only made the playoffs once over the next four seasons, finishing near the bottom of the division every two years. They were eliminated from the postseason in the 2020 qualifying round and were eliminated in the first round the following year. A loss in the Western Conference finals in 2021-22 followed, and they were eliminated in the second round last season. Still, in that time, McDavid solidified his status as one of the greats. His seven consecutive 100-point seasons before age 28, for example, put him in conversation with not only Gretzky but also Mario Lemieux. But with his success, expectations turned into questions. As good as McDavid was, could he ever win to Cup in Edmonton? Can he ever match Gretzky’s greatness? And what was this talented team missing? Was that goalie? Defending? It was them cursed from above? Or was it the city itself, unable to attract the type of players the team needed for a championship?

A few months before McDavid was drafted, Edmonton was selected in a poll of NHL players as the least desirable city to call home. Edmonton, the NHL’s northernmost outpost, has been, since the discovery of nearby oil in the 1940s, a blue-collar city going through a boom-and-bust cycle of commodity prices. He prides himself on his gruff, frontier attitude. But it’s not always the easiest place to be. When McDavid came to town, Edmonton’s unemployment rate was 5.4%; It reached 15.6% during the pandemic and is now just under 7%. The city is fighting a historic homeless crisis and a street drug epidemic. But, like his team, Edmonton may be down, but not out. And the Oilers are doing their part: The team’s first three rounds generated a My dear 179 million Canadian dollars in economic activity for the city.

The Oilers played their final home game of the 2023-24 season on Friday in front of an endless roar from the crowd — the sound of a city that perhaps needed a little hope. On Monday night, they will return to Florida to contemplate history: that of their team, that of the ’42 Leafs and that of a nation desperate for the Cup to return to its homeland for the first time in more than 30 years. All of these expectations could prove too much for the Oilers, although there is plenty of pressure on the Panthers to avoid a crushing capitulation after what looked like a first Stanley Cup title. all except theirs 10 days ago. It may be that the only Gretzky feat that McDavid surpasses this year will be that of the Great total postseason points, something that in itself seemed impossible. On the other hand, what is one more miracle? The impossible is what McDavid does.

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