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Oilers, Panthers could join short list of teams to win from fall to summer in same NHL season

It’s officially summer, and the best two teams in hockey during the winter months of the 2023-24 NHL season are still playing.

Whichever team wins Game 6 — and Game 7, if necessary — of the Stanley Cup final between the Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers that resumes in Alberta on Friday night will not only be a team for all time as hockey’s champion. It will be a rare team for all seasons, too.

Let’s explain: Summer began in the Northern Hemisphere on Thursday. That makes this the fourth time in the last five years that the NHL season has stretched into the summer months and the sixth time that it’s happened in league history.

But the Panthers or Oilers — or both — will join a very short list of teams to win games in fall, winter, spring and summer in the same NHL season.

“We’re incredibly lucky, for sure,” Panthers forward Ryan Lomberg said. “We were talking about the other day, that teams that haven’t made the playoffs have been at home for a couple months now.”

The first two instances of Cup final games getting played in summer — 1995 and 2013 — were because those seasons started late due to labour strife and no games were played in the fall. The 2019-20 season started in the fall 2019 and ended in the fall 2020, but saw no games played in spring 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020-21 season stretched into summer but didn’t start until mid-January so, again, no fall games were played.

There have been two teams in NHL history — the 2021-22 Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning — to win games in fall, winter, spring and summer in the same season. That year’s schedule saw a slew of postponements because of the pandemic and the Stanley Cup final stretched into the summer. Colorado went 2-1, Tampa Bay 1-2 following the June solstice that year.

The winner of Friday’s Game 6 of this year’s Cup final in Edmonton will become the third team in NHL history to win a game in fall, winter, spring and summer in the same hockey season. (And if it’s the Oilers, that means the Panthers will have another chance to join that list in Sunrise, Fla., on Monday night in Game 7.)

WATCH | Edmonton’s last Stanley Cup win in 1990:  

Edmonton’s last Stanley Cup win in 1990 | Flashback

13 days ago

Duration 1:40

As the Edmonton Oilers take on the Florida Panthers in the Stanley Cup final, here’s a look back at the last time Edmonton won the title — 1990.

For the record, if we look at the actual meteorological seasons within this hockey season, the Panthers and Oilers have been relatively close record-wise all year:

  • Games played in the fall — Florida 18-12-3, Edmonton 14-15-1.
  • Games played in the winter — Edmonton 27-6-4, Florida 27-7-2. (No team had a better record in the winter months this season than the Oilers and Panthers did.)
  • Games played in the spring, including playoffs — Florida 22-12-3, Edmonton 22-15-2.

“Incredibly lucky and fortunate to be in this position,” Lomberg said.

The only time the Stanley Cup has been handed out later in the calendar year has been seasons affected by a strike, lockout or the pandemic. The last time the Oilers won it, in 1990, it was May 24.

Kane skates    

Evander Kane, who has been scratched the past three games because of the sports hernia he had been playing through, took part in Oilers practice on a fifth line, which would indicate he is not penciled in to play in Game 6.   

Coach Kris Knoblauch was not ready to make any declarations, consistent with his behavior throughout the series, saying he had not yet talked to athletic trainer T.D. Forss to see how Kane was feeling.   

“We have got some things to think about,” Knoblauch said. “But we have possibilities.”   

Game 6 History   

Both teams are 2-0 in Game 6 so far in these playoffs. Edmonton beat Vancouver 5-1 and Dallas 2-1; Florida beat Boston and the New York Rangers, each time by a score of 2-1.   

All-time, Edmonton is 17-9 in Game 6 and 10-7 at home in Game 6s. Florida is 6-3 all-time in the sixth game of a series, 2-3 when that contest is on the road.

WATCH | Oilers hang on to force Game 6: 

Oilers hang on to force Game 6

2 days ago

Duration 2:10

The Edmonton Oilers have finally managed to win a road game in the Stanley Cup finals against the Florida Panthers and force a Game 6 back at home in Edmonton. CBC’s Sam Samson followed the team to Sunrise, Fla,. and breaks down the win and how fans are feeling about dragging the series back to Alberta.

Long Season   

One team will set a record, the other will tie a record on Friday.   

Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final is Edmonton’s 106th contest of the season, tying the 2005-06 Oilers for the most in a season (including playoffs) in franchise history.   

It will be the 105th of the season for the Panthers. That’s a Florida single-season record; the 1995-96 Panthers played 104 games.   

The NHL record for games in a season is 108, done on six occasions, most recently by the St. Louis Blues in their 2018-19 Stanley Cup title season.

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