Florida Panthers vs Edmonton Oilers Picks and Predictions June 8th 2024

Florida Panthers vs Edmonton Oilers NHL Sat, Jun 8, 20:00 pm.
Florida Panthers
ML: -135
Edmonton Oilers
ML: 115

Oilers’ Stars Meet Redemption-Minded Panthers in Stanley Cup Game 1

Leon Draisaitl’s 10th NHL season and Connor McDavid’s ninth have finally culminated in reaching the Stanley Cup Final. It has been a long and challenging journey for the Edmonton Oilers’ dynamic duo, but their perseverance has paid off.

The Long Road to the Final

McDavid, Draisaitl, and their teammates are set to kick off the best-of-seven championship series against the Florida Panthers on Saturday in Sunrise, Florida.

Given the lengthy careers of McDavid and Draisaitl as NHL superstars, it’s natural to wonder what took so long for them to reach this point.

“Yes, it took us a while to get here,” Draisaitl acknowledged on Friday. “But we were young kids coming in with the weight of the world on our shoulders. Everybody expected us to do everything. We weren’t ready to understand what it really takes to win at 19, 20, 21 years old. That’s just a fact. Sometimes it takes a little longer. Over the last few years, we’ve improved in those scenarios and gotten better and better.”

Historical Context

The Oilers last won the Stanley Cup in 1990 and reached the final in 2006. The Panthers are in the final for the second consecutive season, having lost to the Vegas Golden Knights one year ago. They are still in pursuit of the franchise’s first title.

Edmonton’s Season Turnaround

Edmonton defeated the Dallas Stars in six games in the Western Conference final. The Oilers had a rough start to their season, winning only two of their first dozen regular-season games and ranking 31st in the league standings when coach Kris Knoblauch replaced the fired Jay Woodcroft.

“With the way our team played all year, going through what we had to go through, that’s a massive reason why we are where we are,” goaltender Stuart Skinner said. “Going through that, you really create a strong friendship, an incredible bond. We dug ourselves a big hole, dug a big hole in playoffs, and crawled out.”

Florida’s Determination

The Panthers eliminated the regular-season champion New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference final in six games. Returning to the final has been their goal all season.

“When we started this year, we didn’t say, ‘We’re not talking about last year.’ We’re gonna take everything we possibly can, what we learned from last year, and talk about it all year long,” coach Paul Maurice told NHL Network. “Last year, each series, even making the playoffs, was an absolute event on its own. … It was all fun and flat-out as hard as we could go.”

A Different Approach

That businesslike mindset was reiterated by several players during their final media availability before the series kicks off.

“It feels a little different,” Florida defenseman Gustav Forsling said when asked to compare his team’s approach from one year ago. “I feel we’re not satisfied at all. We know how hard it is to get here and really want to take care of this opportunity.”

Key Strategies and Players

A crucial part of Florida’s game plan will be to shut down Edmonton’s potent attack, led by McDavid and Draisaitl, who already have netted 31 and 28 points, respectively, during this playoff run.

“We treat this series as any other series,” defenseman Dmitry Kulikov said. “Every other team we played has dangerous players that could score and turn a game. Our mindset doesn’t change.”

Special Teams Matchup

In the special teams matchup, Edmonton boasts the best power play (37.3 percent, 19-for-51) and penalty kill (93.9 percent, having snuffed 28 consecutive situations) of the postseason. Florida’s power play stands at 23.3 percent — 14-for-60 — with a penalty kill at 88.2 percent, ranking second.

Regular Season Meetings

The Panthers won both regular-season meetings against the Oilers by a combined 10-4 score.

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