The post Oilers and Panthers Set for Historic Stanley Cup Final Clash appeared first on NHL Trade Talk.

The Edmonton Oilers clinched the Western Conference Final by eliminating the Dallas Stars in six games, positioning themselves for a showdown with the Florida Panthers. This upcoming Stanley Cup Final represents a golden opportunity for Canada, as the Oilers could end a 30-plus-year championship drought for the nation, a feat not achieved since the Montreal Canadiens’ victory in 1993. For the Panthers, it’s about winning their first-ever franchise Stanley Cup.

Clear up your Saturday night schedule. The #StanleyCup Final begins June 8 at 8 p.m. ET (@ESPN, @ESPNPlus, @Sportnet, @TVASports, CBC) when the @EdmontonOilers visit the @FlaPanthers for Game 1.#NHLStats:

— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) June 3, 2024

This marks Edmonton’s first trip to the Final since 2006, when they narrowly lost to the Carolina Hurricanes in seven games. Meanwhile, the Panthers were there last season and had vowed to get back.

Related: Oilers Off to Stanley Cup Final After Gritty Game 6 Win Over Stars

Both teams adhered to a superstition by not touching their Conference Final Trophies, a practice believed to influence the Final’s outcome. With neither team breaking this tradition, it remains to be seen which team benefits from the gesture.

Oilers vs. Panthers: Key Stanley Cup Final Storylines to Watch

Edmonton will have to monitor the status of Evander Kane, who suffered an injury in Game 6 after a rough hit. Although he returned for a few shifts, he didn’t play in the third period. Head coach Kris Knoblauch remains optimistic about Kane’s recovery, noting the week-long break before the Final begins. Kane’s presence is crucial, especially given Matthew Tkachuk’s known struggles against him.

Health will be a crucial factor, with both teams relatively healthy despite the rigors of postseason play. Edmonton will closely monitor Kane’s situation, but overall, the top players on both rosters are fit to compete.

Special teams will be a focal point in this series. The Oilers boast the top penalty kill in the playoffs at 93.9%, while the Panthers are close behind at 88.2%. Edmonton has set a franchise record with 28 consecutive successful penalty kills. Florida has similarly excelled, killing off 46 of 51. On the power play, Edmonton holds a significant edge with a 37.3% success rate compared to Florida’s 23.3%. If Edmonton can replicate their power play performance from their series against Dallas, Vancouver, and LA, it could be a decisive factor.

Goaltending will also play a pivotal role. Stuart Skinner outperformed Jake Oettinger in the series against Dallas, but he will face a new challenge against Sergei Bobrovsky. Bobrovsky’s save percentage ranks 12th among the 26 goaltenders in these playoffs at .908, while Skinner is not far behind at .897. However, in their most recent series, Bobrovsky posted a .921 save percentage, and Skinner a .923, indicating a potentially tight battle.

Offense vs. Defense: Oilers and Panthers

Offensively, the Oilers have an advantage thus far this postseason, with four players in the top five in playoff scoring. Zach Hyman leads the league with 14 goals, while no Panther has reached double digits in goals, with Carter Verhaeghe closest at nine. This offensive firepower could be crucial if Edmonton’s stars maintain their hot streak. Florida will rely heavily on Aleksander Barkov, one of the league’s best two-way players, and his linemate Sam Reinhart, who scored 57 goals in the regular season.

Related: Florida Panthers Return to Stanley Cup Final for Second Straight Season

Defensively, Florida’s Gustav Forsling will be tasked with shutting down Edmonton’s dynamic duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, a feat Chris Tanev couldn’t achieve for Dallas.

Oilers vs Panthers Stanley Cup Final: Barkov vs McDavid

Physicality will be another key aspect. Florida has delivered 739 hits in 17 games compared to Edmonton’s 566 in 18 games. The Panthers’ physicality could pose a challenge, although the Oilers have previously handled similarly physical teams like the Kings.

Which Team Wants It More?

The Panthers, reaching the Stanley Cup Final in consecutive years after losing last year, are the first team to do so since the Pittsburgh Penguins, who won the Cup in 2009 after falling short the previous year. Experience in losing a Final isn’t new to some players on either team; Corey Perry, for instance, has been to four Finals in the past five seasons, and Mattias Ekholm reached one a decade ago.

This promises to be a thrilling series. The Panthers are the favorites, but the Stars were too in their series vs. Edmonton. That might not mean much any longer. The Oilers-Panthers matchup will set a new record for the longest distance between two competing teams in NHL history, spanning 2,541 miles, which could factor into the series due to the extensive travel involved.

Next: Rangers Set To Make Shesterkin Highest-Paid Goalie in the NHL

The post Oilers and Panthers Set for Historic Stanley Cup Final Clash appeared first on NHL Trade Talk.

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