Stanley Cup Final Preview And Prediction: Panthers Vs. Oilers

SUNRISE, FLORIDA - JUNE 07: Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers speaks to the media during Media Day prior to the 2024 Stanley Cup Final at Amerant Bank Arena on June 07, 2024 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers speaks to the media during Media Day prior to the 2024 Stanley Cup Final at Amerant Bank Arena on June 07, 2024 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

OAN’s James Meyers
11:23 AM – Saturday, June 8, 2024

After eight months, 2,700 NHL games, the Stanley Cup Final is here. 

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The 2024 playoffs have delivered great storylines, with the New York Rangers falling in the Eastern Conference Final as they looked to win their first cup in the franchise’s history. 

Another storyline was the defending champion Las Vegas Golden Knights losing in seven games to the Dallas Stars. The Stars were then eliminated by the Western Conference representative Edmonton Oilers in six games. 

2024 Stanley Cup Final schedule

Game 1: Oilers at Panthers | Saturday, June 8, 8 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+)
Game 2: Oilers at Panthers | Monday, June 10, 8 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+)
Game 3: Panthers at Oilers | Thursday, June 13, 8 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+)
Game 4: Panthers at Oilers | Saturday, June 15, 8 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+)
*Game 5: Oilers at Panthers | Tuesday, June 18, 8 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+)
*Game 6: Panthers at Oilers | Friday, June 21, 8 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+)
*Game 7: Oilers at Panthers | Monday, June 24, 8 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+)

How they got here: Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers started the season with an abysmal 3-9-1 record, causing them to fire coach Jay Woodcroft and having Kris Knoblauch take over. Since the time Knoblauch has taken over no team in the NHL has won more games. In their road to the final, the Oilers took care of the Los Angeles Kings in five games, scoring 22 goals in that span. In the second round they faced elimination twice against the Vancouver Canucks but were able to take care of business in a hard fought series that went seven games. Then in the West final they were able to defeat the Stars in six games after trailing 2-1 in the series. 

Edmonton arguably has the best attack in the NHL, led by the best player in the game in Connor McDavid. The Oilers also have the best power-play (37.3%) and penalty kill (93.9%) in the postseason, which has played a vital factor in their pursuit of the cup. 

Another reason why Edmonton is here is due to the outstanding goaltending by Stuart Skinner. Skinner went from being benched against the Canucks to stopping an incredible 72 of 76 shots in their three straight wins against the Stars. Now the question is will this be Canada’s first Stanley Cup title since 1993, after the Canadiens beat the Kings in the Final. 

How they got here: Florida Panthers

Representing the Eastern Conference is the hard hitting, talented Florida Panthers. Florida cruised through the first two rounds of the playoffs, beating the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games, then taking care of the Boston Bruins in six games. The Panthers biggest test so far in these playoffs came from the top-seeded Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals. Like the Oilers, the Panthers trailed 2-1 in the series and were able to win four straight to advance to the Final. 

Led by Matthew Tkachuk and Sam Bennett, the Panthers are considered the villain in this year’s final. The team is also led by always entertaining coach Paul Maurice, who is looking to end a 28-year run without a title. Florida will look to avenge last year’s magical run as they fell just short to the Golden Knights in the final. 

The last time these two teams played was almost six months ago, but the Oilers were a game under .500 and Florida was waiting on Brandon Montour and Aaron Eklab to come back from offseason surgeries. Florida won both games, the first in November 5-1 and the second game 5-3. 

There has not been a wider distance in terms of travel between two teams competing for the cup. The trip from Sunrise, Florida, to Edmonton, Alberta, is 2,541 miles, per ESPN Stats and Info. That beats out the 2011 Cup Final between the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins, which came in at 2,500 miles. This explains the multiple extra days off between games.

Prediction

Florida Panthers win in 6 games

Florida’s gritty style of play will be able to wear down the high powered offense of the Oilers. The Panthers throughout these playoffs have been able to shut down individual stars and power-play units as well. The Bruins went 1-for-17, while the Rangers also scored only once in their 15 opportunities. The Lightning fared well, scoring four times in 20 chances, but coach Maurice’s adjustments after the first round have been the difference. 

After losing last year at this stage, the Panthers now have the experience and understanding for what it takes to lift the cup. The series should be highly entertaining, but in the end Florida will take home the franchise’s first Stanley Cup. 

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