Stanley Cup Final: Oilers embracing challenge of overcoming 2-0 series deficit: 'It's supposed to be difficult'

Edmonton has one goal through two games of the series against the Panthers

Only five NHL teams have come back from a 2-0 deficit in a best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final. The Oilers are hoping to become the sixth. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Only five NHL teams have come back from a 2-0 deficit in a best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final. The Oilers are hoping to become the sixth. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Edmonton Oilers will be welcomed home Thursday night for by a raucous Rogers Place crowd. Game 3 (8 p.m. ET; ABC) will be the first Stanley Cup Final game in the city since 2006, and while they face a 2-0 deficit against the Florida Panthers, they know there is still lots of hockey left in the series.

“I think it’s going to be special," said Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl. "But we’ve got to give them a reason to be special, right?"

Despite the hole they find themselves in, the Oilers are confident as they return home. There's a belief in their dressing room that they can bounce back after dropping the opening two games of the series.

That confidence begins with captain Connor McDavid.

"We've been down and out lots this year,” McDavid said on Wednesday. “We've been down and out lots throughout the playoffs. It's nothing new to this group.

“Where does that come from? I think it comes from just such a big will to win. Our group wants to win as bad as I've seen. Not to say other groups don't want to win and not to say that Florida doesn't want to win, because they sure do.

“But our group has willed our way out of situations, and I think we have an opportunity to do that here in this series as well.”

According to the NHL, only five teams have come back from a 2-0 series deficit in a best-of-seven Cup Final and won. None have done so since the 2010-11 Boston Bruins.

The Oilers have only one goal through two games and their vaunted power play, which entered the Cup Final clicking at 37.3%, has been frustrated and goalless in seven opportunities. Florida goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is putting on a performance worthy of the Conn Smythe Trophy and the defense in front of him has continued doing what they've done all postseason: shut down opposing stars.

In trying to figure out a winning formula, Edmonton head coach Kris Knoblauch is likely to continue with lineup changes for Game 3. Though, he wasn't revealing anything during Thursday's media availability, saying we would have to wait until game time to see who's in and who's out.

After Bobrovsky stole Game 1 by himself, the Panthers played better as a collective defensively on Monday night, limiting the Oilers to 19 shots. McDavid has been slowed to nine shots on goal and one assist through two games. It's been a similar struggle for Draisaitl, who has zero points and six shots so far in the series.

If Edmonton's stars can't get going offensively, and its depth is already lacking, then it's going to be a difficult road for the Oilers to make this a series.

Lose Thursday and they face a 3-0 deficit against a team they've been unable to figure out. But McDavid is welcoming the challenge and hopeful that his teammates will embrace the tall task ahead.

“It’s supposed to be hard. It's supposed to be difficult,” McDavid said. “I'm excited to see what our group is made of, excited to see our group coming together. Excited to see us fight through adversity, and looking forward to people doubting us again, with our backs against the wall.”