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Winter again in June: Oilers and Panthers ensure that this hockey season extends into the summer

Winter again in June: Oilers and Panthers ensure that this hockey season extends into the summer
Winter again in June: Oilers and Panthers ensure that this hockey season extends into the summer


EDMONTON, Alberta It's officially summer and the top two hockey teams are in the winter months of the 2023-2024 NHL season 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 Friday night in Alberta, will not only be a team forever as hockey champions. It will also be a rare team for all seasons.

Let us explain: Summer started Thursday in the Northern Hemisphere. That makes this the fourth time in the past five years that the NHL season has extended into the summer months and the sixth time in league history that this has happened.

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

“We've certainly been incredibly lucky,” Panthers forward Ryan Lomberg said. We were talking the other day about how teams that didn't make the playoffs have been stuck at home for a few months now.

The first two times cup finals were played in the summer of 1995 and 2013 were because those seasons started late due to labor disputes and no matches were played in the autumn. The 2019–20 season began in the fall of 2019 and ended in the fall of 2020, but no games were played in the spring of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020-2021 season extended into the summer, but didn't start until mid-January, so again no fall games were played.

There have been two teams in NHL history: the 2021-2022 Colorado Avalanche and the Tampa Bay Lightning that won games in the fall, winter, spring and summer in the same season. That year's schedule had a slew of postponements due to the pandemic, and the Stanley Cup Final stretched into the summer. Colorado went 2-1, Tampa Bay 1-2 after the June solstice of that year.

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

For the record, when looking at actual meteorological seasons within this hockey season, the Panthers and Oilers have been relatively close all year:

Games played in the fall Florida 18-12-3, Edmonton 14-15-1.

Games played in 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.)

Games played in the spring including playoffs Florida 22-12-3, Edmonton 22-15-2.

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

The only times the Stanley Cup is awarded later in the calendar year are seasons affected by a strike, lockout or the pandemic. The last time the Oilers won the award was in 1990, on May 24.

Evander Kane, who has been scratched for the past three games due to the sports hernia he suffered, participated in the Oilers practice on a fifth line, which would indicate that he has not been assessed to play in Game 6.

Coach Kris Knoblauch was unwilling to make any statement, consistent with his behavior throughout the series, saying he had not yet spoken to athletic trainer TD Forss to see how Kane was feeling.

We have some things to think about, Knoblauch said. But we have options.

Both teams are 2-0 so far in Game 6 in these playoffs. Edmonton defeated Vancouver 5-1 and Dallas 2-1; Florida defeated Boston and the New York Rangers, each time 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 game is on the road.

One team sets a record, the other team will equal a record on Friday.

Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final is Edmonton's 106th game 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 single-season record in Florida; the 1995-96 Panthers played 104 games.

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

Reynolds reported from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

AP NHL Playoffs: And




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