2024 Stanley Cup Final - Game Two

SUNRISE, FL – Drag 'em back to Alberta.

Despite the scenario, it's all smiles in the Stanley Cup Final for the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday as they get set to battle against the Florida Panthers at Amerant Bank Arena in Game 5 and try to win one game to send the series back home to Oil Country for the chance at yet another opportunity.

During his morning media availability this morning, winger Dylan Holloway needed only to look to his left for his answer to the media after being asked about who helps keep the mood light in the dressing room despite the Oilers facing such a tall task in the Stanley Cup Final.

When you see a grin like Ryan McLeod’s staring back at you, how can't you smile back?

“I think it's definitely big for us to try and keep it light,” Holloway said. “You never want to get too wound up. You’ve got to keep it loose. I think we got a bunch of guys in the room that do that. Clouder's a good example of a guy who keeps it loose, and other guys like Brownie and Picks are great too.”

“He does it all. He cracks jokes. He chirps guys. He'll be sitting on the bench and he'll be chirping guys, so it's kind of funny. He keeps it loose. It definitely takes the pressure off.”

Dylan talks to the media ahead of Game 5 against the Panthers

After Holloway delivered his answers, McLeod responded with a humoured scoff and a half smile before sauntering off to the back rooms, where more of his friendly banter and facial expressions no doubt landed on with his teammates at the rink following Tuesday’s optional morning skate.

It's all part of living in the moment and embracing how far you've come to get to this point – three wins away from the Stanley Cup – even though there's still plenty of work to do and the near-perfect way the Oilers will have to play to reverse their fortunes and live out their dreams of hoisting hockey's holy grail.

"It's pretty special to just be playing in the Stanley Cup Final," Holloway added. "I think when it's all said and done, we'll take a step back and realize how cool it is. But at the moment, we got a job to do and we're just more focused on that. It's important to take it all in and not take it for granted, but at the same time, we have a job to do."

"It's exciting," Connor McDavid added. "It's fun to be part of. There's nothing else we'd rather be doing than right here and playing hockey, so we don't want that to end and we're excited about the opportunity to go win a game tonight."

Connor talks to the media on Tuesday morning before Game 5

The Oilers could've gripped their sticks too tightly or sweated every detail from their first three games of the series, but those are in the past. The same goes for their 8-1 thrashing of the Panthers in Game 4 on Saturday night.

Instead, the Oilers are carrying with them a confidence they can accomplish anything knowing what they've been through this season to get this opportunity to become legends.

"I think we've been in a really good frame of mind," Head Coach Kris Knoblauch said. "I think our guys feel confident, and I said yesterday about what my role is – I don't think it's much because I think the players are in a really good position where they're loose and they're confident. They know their backs are up against the wall, and they know it's going to be a very difficult task to do this, but I don't think there's any lack of confidence in being able to do it.

"We've been in very difficult positions before, not in the Stanley Cup final of course, but they're just enjoying it as much as they can."

Brown & the Oilers look to drag the Panthers back to Alberta

The enjoyment of the Oilers will be a lot higher if they can take care of business on the road tonight and send the series back to Oil Country – along with making the Panthers brave another nearly six-hour flight back to Edmonton, where they'd encounter an atmosphere unlike anything experienced in the modern era of the NHL after baring witness to the atmosphere that surrounded Saturday's Game 4 inside ICE District and Rogers Place.

"It's just what we have to do," McDavid said. "You guys [the media] have done the flight. It's a long flight. You guys know what it's like. It's not the most enjoyable flight, so we just have to make them do one more plane ride and one more flight. That's all we can really do."

The task is far from finished, but the potential of playing in a Game 6 on Friday night in front of their home fans is yet another carrot being dangled in front of the Oilers' players. The Cats have claws, but there's a storm of Blue & Orange rolling off the East Coast that could blow this whole Stanley Cup Final back up north.

"Every time we're back in Edmonton, it seems to get louder and louder when you didn't expect it could get any louder. So that's the goal," Connor Brown said. "We're going to try to drag them back to Alberta. We love playing on home ice. This is going to be a difficult game, but with that being said, we feel confident in the type of game that it's going to be."