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Pressure? Panthers know they've made mistakes but still lead Oilers in the Stanley Cup Final

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Pressure? Panthers know they've made mistakes but still lead Oilers in the Stanley Cup Final
Sport

Sport

Pressure? Panthers know they've made mistakes but still lead Oilers in the Stanley Cup Final

2024-06-20 04:02 Last Updated At:04:11

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Florida coach Paul Maurice sat behind a microphone again on Wednesday, giving his daily news conference even though basically nothing new had happened in the 13 hours between then and the last time he spoke to reporters.

He took a bunch of questions. He also had one to ask.

“How can I be the only person in a decent mood here today?” Maurice asked, sort of rhetorically, sort of seriously.

Yes, the Panthers have lost their last two games and gotten embarrassed in one of them. Yes, they've wasted two chances to win the Stanley Cup. Yes, a 3-0 lead in the title series against the Edmonton Oilers is down to 3-2, after the Panthers lost Game 5 on home ice 5-3 on Tuesday night. Yes, Game 6 is in Edmonton on Friday night and, yes, Oilers star Connor McDavid just had back-to-back games the likes of which have never been seen in the Cup final before.

No, that doesn't mean the Panthers are worried about wilting under pressure.

“You're going to think I'm lying to you,” Maurice said. “I'm more comfortable. I understand the feeling of 3-2 because most series are like that; 3-0 is more of an aberration, isn't it? Pressure. I think we think about these things possibly differently and I'm not sure I would agree with the assessment that the pressure has shifted so heavily to us.”

Forget the on-ice matters for a moment. Just about every historical stat that Maurice can show his team before it boards another flight to Edmonton on Thursday says the trends over time show that Florida should be liking its chances:

— The Panthers won Game 1. Game 1 winners win the Cup 76% of the time.

— They led the series 2-0. Teams in that situation win the Cup at a 91% rate.

— They led the series 3-0. The Cup rate there: 96%.

— They led 3-1. Cup rate in that situation: 97%.

— They lead 3-2. Cup rate in that situation: 81%. After getting outscored 13-1 from late in Game 3 to basically midway through Game 5, after losing 8-1 in their last trip to Edmonton and falling at home on Tuesday night, the Panthers still lead the series. Nobody, if offered the chance to be in this spot on the first day of camp back in the fall, would have declined.

“It's still 3-2,” Maurice said.

Sure, Edmonton has done what it must do. It has fended off elimination twice. It has sent the series back to Alberta and will have a chance in front of its own rowdy, delirious, Cup-starved fans to try to force the ultimate — a Game 7 — in Florida that would be played Monday night. The Panthers are tipping their caps, yet they still believe they can make the change they need to finish this thing off.

“I think we were gripping the sticks a little tight,” Panthers forward Sam Bennett acknowledged after Game 5. “We wanted it a little too bad tonight. ... We've just got to win one game. It's as simple as that.”

There are most certainly things for the Panthers to clean up. Nobody was pleased with how, on the heels of losing 8-1, they got into a 3-0 hole to start things in Game 5. They have been outscored on their own power plays 2-1, which is inexcusable on a number of levels.

There's also things to like. That's what Maurice is preaching now, with only one or two games left in the season.

“Our 5-on-5 game was as good last night as it's been all series,” Maurice said. “That gets you out of bed and gets you ready for Game 6.”

AP NHL playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/stanley-cup and https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL

Florida Panthers right wing Vladimir Tarasenko (10) and Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl (29) collide during the second period of Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals, Tuesday, June 18, 2024, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Florida Panthers right wing Vladimir Tarasenko (10) and Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl (29) collide during the second period of Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals, Tuesday, June 18, 2024, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Edmonton Oilers right wing Connor Brown (28) scores a goal against Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) during the first period of Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals, Tuesday, June 18, 2024, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Edmonton Oilers right wing Connor Brown (28) scores a goal against Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) during the first period of Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals, Tuesday, June 18, 2024, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Florida Panthers head coach Paul Maurice stands during the first period of Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals against the Edmonton Oilers, Tuesday, June 18, 2024, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Florida Panthers head coach Paul Maurice stands during the first period of Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals against the Edmonton Oilers, Tuesday, June 18, 2024, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Florida Panthers head coach Paul Maurice leaves a news conference following Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals against the Edmonton Oilers, Tuesday, June 18, 2024, in Sunrise, Fla. The Oilers defeated the Panthers 5-3. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Florida Panthers head coach Paul Maurice leaves a news conference following Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals against the Edmonton Oilers, Tuesday, June 18, 2024, in Sunrise, Fla. The Oilers defeated the Panthers 5-3. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The top U.N. court says Israel's presence in the Palestinian occupied territories is “unlawful” and called on it to end.

The International Court of Justice said in its non-binding opinion issued Friday that Israel has abused its status as the occupying power in the West Bank and east Jerusalem by carrying out policies of annexing territory, imposing permanent control and building settlements.

It said such acts render "Israel’s presence in the occupied Palestinian territory unlawful.” It says its continued presence was ”illegal" and should be ended as “rapidly as possible.”

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

The top United Nations court said Israel's settlement policy in the West Bank and east Jerusalem violates international law, as it delivered a non-binding advisory opinion on the legality of Israel’s 57-year occupation of lands sought for a Palestinian state, a ruling that could have more effect on international opinion than it will on Israeli policies.

International Court of Justice President Nawaf Salam was expected to take about an hour to read out the full opinion of the panel, which is made up of 15 judges from around the world.

In part of the opinion, he said the panel had found that "the transfer by Israel of settlers to the West Bank and Jerusalem as well as Israel’s maintenance of their presence, is contrary to article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.” The court also noted with “grave concern” that Israel’s settlement policy has been expanding.

The court also found that Israel's use of natural resources was “inconsistent” with its obligations under international law as an occupying power.

Friday’s hearing comes against the backdrop of Israel’s devastating 10-month military assault on Gaza, which was triggered by the Hamas-led attacks in southern Israel. In a separate case, the International Court of Justice is considering a South African claim that Israel’s campaign in Gaza amounts to genocide, a claim that Israel vehemently denies.

Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians seek all three areas for an independent state.

Israel considers the West Bank to be disputed territory, whose future should be decided in negotiations, while it has moved population there in settlements to solidify its hold. It has annexed east Jerusalem in a move that is not internationally recognized, while it withdrew from Gaza in 2005 but maintained a blockade of the territory after Hamas took power in 2007. The international community generally considers all three areas to be occupied territory.

At hearings in February, then-Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki accused Israel of apartheid and urged the United Nations’ top court to declare that Israel’s occupation of lands sought by the Palestinians is illegal and must end immediately and unconditionally for any hope for a two-state future to survive.

Israel, which normally considers the United Nations and international tribunals as unfair and biased, did not send a legal team to the hearings. But it submitted written comments, saying that the questions put to the court are prejudiced and “fail to recognize Israel’s right and duty to protect its citizens,” address Israeli security concerns or acknowledge Israel-Palestinian agreements to negotiate issues, including “the permanent status of the territory, security arrangements, settlements, and borders.”

The Palestinians presented arguments in February along with 49 other nations and three international organizations.

Erwin van Veen, a senior research fellow at the Clingendael think tank in The Hague, said that if the court rules that Israel’s policies in the West Bank and east Jerusalem breach international law, that is unlikely to change Israeli policies but it would “isolate Israel further internationally, at least from a legal point of view.”

He said such a ruling would “worsen the case for occupation. It removes any kind of legal, political, philosophical underpinning of the Israeli expansion project.”

It would also strengthen the hand of “those who seek to advocate against it” — such as the grassroots Palestinian-led movement advocating boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

He said it also could increase the number of countries that recognize the state of Palestine, in particular in the Western world, following the recent example of Spain and Norway and Ireland.”

It is not the first time the ICJ has been asked to give its legal opinion on Israeli policies. Two decades ago, the court ruled that Israel’s West Bank separation barrier was “contrary to international law.” Israel boycotted those proceedings, saying they were politically motivated.

Israel says the barrier is a security measure. Palestinians say the structure amounts to a massive land grab because it frequently dips into the West Bank.

The U.N. General Assembly voted by a wide margin in December 2022 to ask the world court for the advisory opinion. Israel vehemently opposed the request that was promoted by the Palestinians. Fifty countries abstained from voting.

Israel has built well over 100 settlements, according to the anti-settlement monitoring group Peace Now. The West Bank settler population has grown by more than 15% in the past five years to more than 500,000 Israelis, according to a pro-settler group.

Israel also has annexed east Jerusalem and considers the entire city to be its capital. An additional 200,000 Israelis live in settlements built in east Jerusalem that Israel considers to be neighborhoods of its capital. Palestinian residents of the city face systematic discrimination, making it difficult for them to build new homes or expand existing ones.

The international community considers all settlements to be illegal or obstacles to peace since they are built on lands sought by the Palestinians for their state.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-line government is dominated by settlers and their political supporters. Netanyahu has given his finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, a former settler leader, unprecedented authority over settlement policy. Smotrich has used this position to cement Israel’s control over the West Bank by pushing forward plans to build more settlement homes and to legalize outposts.

Authorities recently approved the appropriation of 12.7 square kilometers (nearly 5 square miles) of land in the Jordan Valley, a strategic piece of land deep inside the West Bank, according to a copy of the order obtained by The Associated Press. Data from Peace Now, the tracking group, indicate it was the largest single appropriation approved since the 1993 Oslo accords at the start of the peace process.

FILE - A view of the Peace Palace, which houses the International Court of Justice, or World Court, in The Hague, Netherlands, on Jan. 26, 2024. (AP Photo/Patrick Post, File)

FILE - A view of the Peace Palace, which houses the International Court of Justice, or World Court, in The Hague, Netherlands, on Jan. 26, 2024. (AP Photo/Patrick Post, File)

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