Stanley Cup Final: Panthers to seek redemption as Oilers' Connor McDavid debuts

Defensemen Gustav Forsling (L) and Niko Mikkola (77) and forward Sam Reinhart (13) will lead the Florida Panthers against the Edmonton Oilers in the 2024 Stanley Cup Final. File Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI
1 of 7 | Defensemen Gustav Forsling (L) and Niko Mikkola (77) and forward Sam Reinhart (13) will lead the Florida Panthers against the Edmonton Oilers in the 2024 Stanley Cup Final. File Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

June 7 (UPI) -- Florida Panthers players will attempt to avenge last year's title series loss when they meet the Edmonton Oilers in the 2024 Stanley Cup Final, starting with Game 1 on Saturday in Sunrise, Fla.

The best-of-seven game series, which will air on ABC and stream on ESPN+, could run through June 24. Puck drop for each meeting is scheduled for 8 p.m. EDT. The least-expensive ticket price for Game 1 was $324, before taxes and fees, on the secondary market as of Friday morning.


"It's the Stanley Cup Final and there is so much on the line," Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk told reporters earlier this week. "I'm sure both teams will go after it pretty good early.

"Both teams really, really want this."

A deep Panthers roster provided balanced efforts throughout the 2023-24 campaign, en route to 52 wins, the second-most in franchise history. They are the third NHL team since 1984 to return to the Stanley Cup Final a year after losing.


The last two teams to accomplish the feat -- the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins and 1984 Oilers -- each won in their return trips. The Panthers also are searching for the first title in franchise history.

Canada's hopes of ending a title drought also hinge on the Oilers. With a series victory, they would become the first Canada-based NHL team since the 1993 Montreal Canadiens to win the Stanley Cup.

"It's a great opportunity for our group and something we've been waiting for for a long time," Oilers star center Connor McDavid said.

Who to watch

One of the league's best defenses -- the Panthers -- will attempt to suffocate one of its top offenses, led by premier scorers in McDavid and fellow Oilers center Leon Draisaitl.

"It's going to be a really interesting, incredibly even series," Panthers coach Paul Maurice said. "There aren't holes. I don't see a hole in their game. Their defensive game is good.

"We don't even need to talk about their offensive game, it's brilliant."

The Panthers dominated two regular-season games against the Oilers, winning 5-3 on Nov. 20 and 5-1 on Dec. 16. Panthers forward Carter Verhaeghe totaled three goals and two assists in those meetings. Forward Sam Bennett logged two goals and two assists for the Panthers. McDavid scored twice and chipped in an assist for the Oilers.


The Panthers allowed the second-fewest goals in the NHL while the Oilers scored the fourth-most. McDavid's 26 assists this postseason are the most in the league, followed by defenseman Evan Bouchard and Draisaitl. Forward Zach Hyman scored a league-best 14 goals through 18 playoff games.

Tkachuk and fellow forwards Sam Reinhart, Aleksander Barkov, Verhaeghe and Bennett, defensemen Gustav Forsling and Brandon Montour and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky will be among the top Panthers prowling back into the Stanley Cup Final.

"They got a lot of good players," Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch said of the Panthers. "Whether it's defense, forwards, they've got a lot of good players throughout the lineup, led by Barkov, one of the best two-way center-men in the league.

"They are aggressive. Sometimes being aggressive can give up opportunities, but they've got a five-man mentality of 'do your job.' They are aggressive, but they don't get caught out of position very often."

McDavid, widely regarded as the best player in the NHL, also can add to his legacy with a title. The nine-year veteran will make his first Stanley Cup Final appearance. McDavid and Draisaitl have been the two most-potent scorers this postseason, with the respective most (31) and second-most points (28) in the NHL.


Bouchard, forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Hyman and goalie Stuart Skinner will be among the other Oilers to watch.

Bobrovsky's 2.20 goals against average this postseason is the second-best in the NHL among goalies that played more than six games. His .908 save percentage was fourth-best among goalies that made more than five appearances. Bobrovsky's 2.37 goals against average in the regular season was the best among net minders who made at least 43 appearances.

McDavid, who tied for the NHL lead with 100 assists, and Draisaitl finished third and seventh, respectively, in regular-season points. Reinhart and Tkachuck led the Panthers, finishing 12th and 20th, respectively, among NHL point-getters. Reinhart's 57 goals were second-most in the league, trailing only Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews (69). Hyman finished third, with 54 scores.

The Panthers will host the Oilers in Game 2 on Monday at Amerant Bank Arena. The series will then shift to Canada for the next two games. Game 3 will be Thursday in Edmonton, Alberta. Game 4 will be June 15 at Rogers Place.

The Panthers, who own home-ice advantage, are set to host Game 5 and Game 7, if necessary. Game 6 will be played in Edmonton, if the series extends past five games.


Stanley Cup Final

All times EDT


Game 1: Oilers at Panthers at 8 p.m.


Game 2: Oilers at Panthers at 8 p.m.


Game 3: Panthers at Oilers at 8 p.m.

June 15

Game 4: Panthers at Oilers at 8 p.m.

June 18

Game 5 (if necessary): Oilers at Panthers at 8 p.m.

June 21

Game 6 (if necessary): Panthers at Oilers at 8 p.m.

June 24

Game 7 (if necessary): Oilers at Panthers at 8 p.m.

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