Florida Panthers hope to learn from Game 4 Stanley Cup Final loss

Florida Panthers hope to learn from Game 4 Stanley Cup Final loss

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Paul Maurice is often wary of clichés, but even the typically talkative coach of the Florida Panthers admits there’s usually some truth in them and that sometimes a well-placed cliché is the best way to get a point across. to make.

In the wake of the Edmonton Oilers routing his Florida Panthers in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, sending the series back to Florida for a potentially decisive Game 5 at Amerant Bank Arena on Tuesday, Maurice pivoted turns to two.

The first: “We came to Edmonton to get a split, and we got what we needed.” And the second: In sports, you either win or you learn, and the Panthers learned a lot in Game 4.

“It’s actually the first opportunity we’ve had as a franchise,” Maurice said. “To feel the two days, the excitement of it, the emotion of it. We will learn how to channel that. That’s all part of this process. … This is our first of these, so we either win or we learn. If we are really lucky, we win and we learn. That didn’t happen tonight.”

Florida had not been in the position in its two previous appearances in the finals that it was on Saturday night, when the Stanley Cup was in the building – and it was there for the Panthers. Florida was defeated by the Colorado Avalanche in 1996 and lost to the Vegas Golden Knights in five games last year; the Panthers are the first team since the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009 to return to the Finals the year after finishing second.

Families of the players and coaches arrived in Edmonton on Friday to celebrate the Panthers’ victory in Game 4. For a coach and a team that has seemed like a simple, every-day mentality for the past two years since Maurice was hired the extra baggage that comes with a game where the Cup is on the line, infiltrating the Panthers as puck drop approached.

Edmonton, too, knew the stakes for Game 4, playing with a level of desperation as the season was potentially still 60 minutes away.

“I think we had to go through that experience,” Maurice said after Monday’s practice. “To be honest, we would have traded the learning experience for a win, but you have to embrace that learning a little bit.”

According to Maurice, the most learning will come from learning more about what it feels like to play with the cup on the line.

“There is a feeling that the goal comes before the match being played,” Maurice said. “In Game 3, the goal is behind the game. I can’t win it tonight. The game stands for it. But if you can, it’s in front of the game, and you have to break through it or put it back behind the game. I don’t know if that makes sense, but the most important thing in your mind when you come to the rink is that you know it’s there.

“There’s just not a lot of places where you can experience that until you’re doing that. That is one match per year, or one or two matches per year for one or two teams. …It’s hard to grasp that until you experience it. We went through it. We were lucky to have a three-game lead, so we’ll get a chance to feel that at least four times.”

And from a purely hockey perspective, there is something to learn for the Panthers as well.

The bounces the Oilers didn’t get in the first three games fell their way in Game 4, and they took advantage of Florida’s normally tight-checking defense on the rush, using their speed through the neutral zone to outpace the Panthers. make you pay.

“I just want to build on a lot of the first three games. I feel like we played with a little bit smaller gap,” said defender Gustav Forsling. “I think we let them loose a little bit in the fourth game and didn’t play as tight as we wanted as a team. It starts with me and all defenders with a tight gap.”

Maurice pulled goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky early in the second period after allowing five goals on 16 shots, but no one on the Panthers is concerned about Bobrovsky going into Game 5.

During Monday’s practice in Fort Lauderdale — a conversational, fast-paced affair that showed how unconcerned Florida is about letting the chance for a sweep slip — Bobrovsky cleared a potential goal off the line with the paddle of his stick, far to large joy of his teammates.

“We didn’t put him in a good position at many points (in Game 4),” forward Carter Verhaeghe said. “He’s been great through all the playoffs. Apparently a lot of confidence in Bob. When you watch him play, he’s great. There’s not much else to say.”