Verhaeghe McDavid split for Gm 7 roundtable Tonight bug

The Florida Panthers host the Edmonton Oilers in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final at Amerant Bank Arena on Monday (8 p.m. ET; ABC, ESPN+, SN, TVAS, CBC).

The Panthers won the first three games of the best-of-7 series. The Oilers won the past three, and they are looking to become the first team since the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs to erase a 3-0 deficit in the Final en route to winning the Cup.

Can the Oilers do it?

They seem to have all the momentum. The Oilers have outscored the Panthers 18-5 in the past three games and historically, the road team has won the past three Cup Final Game 7 showdowns. However, in the past 17 Final series to go seven games, the home team has won 12 of them.

So, which team will win Game 7 and who will be the hero in the victory? Those are the questions we asked eight writers who have covered this series in-person.

Their answers are as close as the series to this point. Here they are:

The Panthers face the Oilers in a historic Game 7

Florida Panthers

Tom Gulitti, staff writer

Although it appears everything is going against the Panthers right now, I have a feeling that facing elimination for the first time this postseason will snap them back into their structured defensive game and they will rebound to win the Cup for the first time. If they can keep the game tight entering the third period, that is usually when they grind teams down and find a way to win. They’ve fallen too far behind to have a chance to do that in the past three games. For the hero, I will pick Carter Verhaeghe. Although he has struggled in this series, there’s a reason he’s the franchise’s all-time playoff leader with 10 game-winning goals, including five in overtime.

Bill Price, Editor-in-Chief

I picked the Panthers to win this series in five games, and although I missed that one, I do think they will find a way to win Game 7. This team has been on a mission since it lost in the Cup Final last season, and they pretty much rolled through the playoffs until Game 4 of the Cup Final. Sure, the Oilers have looked like the better team in maybe five of the first six games, but this is about one game and I feel the Panthers will put it together and get it done. Call it a hunch, call it seeing what they did to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins and New York Rangers in the first three rounds, or just call it the law of averages coming back in their favor, but I think they will win, and I think Matthew Tkachuk will play the hero. He is a big-game player, and this is the biggest game there is.

Shawn P. Roarke, senior director of editorial

It’s hard to find much to like about the Panthers game across the past 10 periods, but that doesn’t matter. The past matters little, and the future even less. We are in the now and it is all that matters. Florida has to play its game for 60 minutes to win its first Stanley Cup championship. Nobody is better at finding its game than Florida, which has played the same way en route to reaching the Final in back-to-back seasons. They trust each other and they trust their game. They’ll find it Monday and emerge victorious, and the man who grabs the trophy from Commissioner Gary Bettman will be the reason why. Captain Aleksander Barkov will play the 200-foot game that was the difference in each of the first three games, and it will be so again in Game 7.

Dan Rosen, senior writer

The Panthers dominance in the third period was one of the narratives of their first three rounds and the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final. Controlled. Aggressive. In your face. That’s who they were as the game went on. They’d wear you out, win the third and win the game. Well, let’s just think of it this way. The game is tied and it’s going into the third period. The Panthers have to be at their best. This is when they shine, and they will. They will win Game 7. It won’t be pretty. It will be because Sergei Bobrovsky finds his game again. He’s the hero, but Florida’s team-first approach will lead them to the Stanley Cup.

The Oilers face the Panthers in a winner-takes-all Game 7

Edmonton Oilers

Nicholas J. Cotsonika, columnist

The Oilers remind me of the 2019 St. Louis Blues, who underachieved, changed coaches and went on a magical championship run. Those Blues had “Gloria” as their song. These Oilers have “La Bamba.” Those Blues won Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final on the road. And I’m betting these Oilers do too. I know Game 7 heroes often aren’t the stars, but Connor McDavid looks like a man on a mission. I’m betting he steps up in the biggest moment of his career and wins the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Tracey Myers, staff writer

When we did our Stanley Cup Final picks, I went with the Edmonton Oilers in seven. I’m sticking with it. Yeah, I figured there was no way it would get to this point about a week ago, but here we are. And right now, I don’t see anything slowing down the Oilers. They haven’t just been good. They’ve been great. Their offense has been incredible and they’re getting points from everyone, not just McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. It’s been a team effort in scoring, on special teams, in goal and everywhere else, and they will finish it Monday. Oh, and I’ll go with Connor Brown as the hero in Game 7 because he’s been pretty impressive throughout the postseason.

Derek Van Diest, staff writer

Considering what the Oilers have been through the past decade or so, it would be fitting for them to win the Stanley Cup on Monday, completing a comeback. The Oilers never seem to do things the easy way and have overcome an enormous amount of adversity to get to this point. Edmonton bottomed out in November, replaced their coach and then went on one of the longest win streaks in NHL history. They faced two elimination games in the second round against the Vancouver Canucks and dug themselves into a massive hole in the Final. But the Oilers have the best player in the world in McDavid, and it is tough to bet against him, especially given this opportunity for him to cement his legacy as one of the best players ever by winning the Stanley Cup. I expect McDavid to have a monster game Monday and lead Edmonton to its first Stanley Cup championship since 1990.

Mike Zeisberger, staff writer

Back in September, in our preseason selections, I picked the Oilers to win the Stanley Cup and McDavid to win the Conn Smythe Trophy. At the beginning of the Stanley Cup Final, I selected the Oilers to win the Stanley Cup in seven games and McDavid to win the Conn Smythe Trophy. Notice a common thread here, even across a nine-month span? I have been consistent in my picks all season, so why would I change now? In fact, I feel stronger than ever that the best player in the world is ready to expand his legacy and get handed the Stanley Cup by the Commissioner. When it comes to hockey, it’s McDavid’s world and we’re all just living in it.

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