Florida Panthers vs. Edmonton Oilers Stanley Cup Preview | 06/06/2024

Florida poses with the Prince of Wales trophy following their Game 6 victory over the Rangers. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Redemption and glory are just four wins away for Florida. It’s been a long year since we got back to this point, but the Panthers are finally back on hockey’s biggest stage to achieve what they didn’t last year: raising the Stanley Cup for the first time ever. The only thing standing in their way is the Edmonton Oilers, the Champions of the West. Florida was obviously overmatched against the New York Rangers and outplayed them at every turn, with the lone exception being who was in the goal; Shesterkin was outstanding for the Rangers, which is the reason why that series went to six games. The gauntlet of goaltenders that the Cats have fought through was arguably a more difficult path than almost any coming out of the West. Hellebuyck’s regular season form didn’t translate to the postseason. Demko was out injured in the first round, and Georgiev was the most inconsistent out of any goalie in the playoffs, leaving Oettinger as the biggest threat in the net. While Skinner did improve in the conference finals overall, he’s been inconsistent for the Oilers, and it’s a big question as to how he will deal with the Panthers, who pepper goalies with shots and so far have hemmed opponents into their own zone. The goaltending edge goes to Florida but the rest of the offensive stats are nearly equal. This year’s Stanley Cup Final is prepped to be an all-out battle between the Panthers and the Oilers.

Related Post: Can Zach Hyman Break the Playoff Goal Record?

What the Numbers Say:

Heading into the finals, Florida’s top point scorers are Tkachuk at 19, Barkov and Verhaeghe at 17, and Lundell and Reinhart at 12. Tkachuk has five goals and 14 assists, Barkov has six goals with 11 assists, Verhaeghe has nine goals with eight assists, Lundell has three goals and nine assists, and Reinhart has eight goals with four assists. Forsling still leads the +/- at +11, Ekblad is at +9, and Lundell is at +7. In my last series preview, I mentioned that we’ll see if Bennett moves out of the negatives after the Rangers series and he has, he’s up to +3. Barkov and Reinhart broke even at 0, but they’ve been positive up to this point. While the Panthers have five players that are negative, two of them haven’t been in the lineup in a while, Cousins and Lomberg. Only Stenlund, Kulikov, and OEL are +/- negative at the moment, and they’re only at a -1 or -2. For power play goals Verhaeghe and Reinhart lead the way with four, Tarasenko has two, and Barkov, Bennett, Montour, and Rodrigues all have one. The Cats still have two short-handed goals from Barkov and Montour. Tkachuk now leads the way with 66 shots, Reinhart has 65, and Verhaeghe has 61. Barkov still leads the faceoff wins with 164 while losing 143 for an FO% of 53.4, Lundell’s still second, winning 124 and losing 107 for an FO% of 53.7, and Stenlund rounds out the top three, winning 80 faceoffs and losing 77 for an FO% of 51.0. It’s worth noting that Reinhart, Rodrigues, Bennett, and Luostarinen, are all around the FO% of 50. The consistency in the faceoff circle is all over the lineup. Bobrovsky’s been a steady presence in the net with a .908 SV%, 2.29 GAA, 12 wins with 5 losses. 

Related Post: Trio of Oilers Lead the Stanley Cup Playoffs in Points

Obviously, McDavid leads the Oilers in points at 31, Draisaitl is second with 28, and Bouchard is third with 27; it’s worth noting that Nugent-Hopkins is also at 20 points. McDavid has five goals and 26 assists, Draisaitl has ten goals with 18 assists, and Bouchard has six goals with 21 assists. Bouchard leads the Oilers for the +/- at +14, Hyman is at +9, and Ekholm rounds out the top three at +8; McDavid is at +7, and Draisaitl is at +2. While the highs are higher than the Panthers, the lows are also lower than the Panthers. There are nine Edmonton players that are +/- negative, with five of them being between -5 to -13; those players would be Ceci, Ryan, Foegele, Desharnais, and Nurse. Draisaitl leads in power-play goals at 6, Hyman has 5, and Nugent-Hopkins rounds out the top three with 4. McDavid has 2, while Bouchard and Ekholm both have 1. The Oilers have one short-handed goal from Janmark. Hyman’s taken the most shots at 76, Draisaitl has 57, and McDavid has 55. Draisaitl’s won the most faceoffs at 172 while losing 175 for a FO% of 49.6, McDavid’s won 120 and lost 143 for a FO% of 45.6, and McLeod’s won 60 faceoffs and lost 59 for a FO% of 50.4. The Oiler’s best faceoff players don’t take the majority of the faceoff workload, McLeod fares the best of those that take the majority of the faceoffs. Skinner’s played 16 games and has an .897 SV%, 2.50 GAA, and won 11 games and lost 5. Pickard stepped in for two games and part of a third game and had a .915 SV% and 2.21 GAA, and split his two full games with a win and a loss. 

Notable Florida Players:

Even though Barkov didn’t have the best series against the Rangers he’s still the best defensive forward on the team, he’s not this year’s Selke winner for no reason. Barkov’s been instrumental in shutting down the top-scoring players for every opponent the Panthers have seen. In 27:21 5v5 ice time against Barkov, Kurcherov had no goals, Pastrnak only had 1 goal in 35:37 5v5 minutes, and Panarin had 0 goals in 23:09 5v5 minutes; Panarin’s only goal of the ECF came in the final minutes of Game 6 and it was during the 6v5. Barkov’s offense is always a welcome edition, but there’s enough scoring depth on the Florida roster that it’s not always necessary to have. The team doesn’t live or die by how offensively productive he is. Gustav Forsling is also going to be a big piece on the back end for the Panthers. He’s arguably the best defenseman in the world in his style of play and he’s given teams absolute fits when he’s on the ice. Forsling made a highlight-worthy play when he made a diving play against a Ranger player and knocked the puck away with his stick while also not tripping the Ranger. A hard and fast wrister shot creates problems for goaltenders when he decides to join the offense, and his puck-handling rivals Barkov’s. The entire second line wreaked havoc against New York, who had no answer on how to deal with them, especially when Tkachuk was playing. With Tkachuk on the ice, the Panthers outshot the Rangers 68-28, outshot attempted 169-69, out-chanced 79-33, and outscored New York 10-4. It was an absolute masterclass from the second line and that’s before even mentioning the big goals from Sam Bennett and the great give-and-go play between him and Rodrigues. Not to mention Bennett’s extremely deceptive no-look pass that went to Forsling, who scored. The Panthers got depth scoring from Tarasenko, who got the series-clinching goal in Game 6, and Lundell who scored another big goal in Game 5 to break the 1-1 tie. Yes, Edmonton has the top-end talent but Florida’s no slouch and has a more even roster in both the forward lines and the defensemen. In a long, grinding game across multiple games, the Panthers have worn down their opponents, and they’re one of the best, if not the best, third-period teams in the NHL. Pair that with their heavy, physical style of play, and it’s not a slam-dunk win for the Oilers. That’s been the talk going around with Edmonton making it to the finals. Florida’s already shut down other top-end talents with a full team effort that’s suffocated offensive chances, or they’ve been blocking shots and giving Bobrovsky the support that he needs to make the timely saves and the big game-saving saves. In a battle of wills, Florida’s been able to impose their will onto other teams and have bested some of the greatest goalies in the league. Game 1 is set for Saturday, June 8th at 8 pm EST/7 pm CT in Sunrise. 

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. We Got The Jack
  2. Episode 7. Player Safety First!
  3. Episode 6. Early Trade Season
  4. Episode 5. Longing For The Chiarelli Years
  5. Episode 4. Ottawa’s On Fire

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