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OPINION: Stanley Cup Finals prediction

Canva Illustration by Audrey Trevarthan

Game 1 of the NHL’s Stanley Cup Finals between the Florida Panthers and the Edmonton Oilers kicks off Saturday, June 8.

Both teams enter the final round of the Stanley Cup playoffs after beating their previous opponents in six games in the conference finals, with Edmonton defeating the Dallas Stars and Florida beating the New York Rangers.

The Florida Panthers enter the finals as the betting favorites according to DraftKings.

Edmonton has a chance to win their first Stanley Cup since 1990 where they defeated the Boston Bruins in five games.

The Oilers previously made the Stanley Cup Finals in 2006, before losing to the Carolina Hurricanes in seven games.

Edmonton currently has five players recording at least a point per game (point: a goal or assist), but the real stars of the show are Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

McDavid leads all players in postseason total assists and points while Draisaitl is top 3 in goals, points and assists.

As of now, Edmonton boasts the best power play and penalty killing percentages these playoffs. 

On the other hand, Florida enters the finals as the runner-up from last year’s Stanley Cup Finals where they lost to the Vegas Golden Knights in five games. 

The Panthers franchise has yet to win a Stanley Cup, with their only other finals appearance being in 1996 where they were swept by the Colorado Avalanche.

Although the 2022 Panthers boasted a better regular season record, one could argue this is the best team in franchise history, and this year is their best chance to win the Stanley Cup.

In net is Sergei Bobrovsky, a two-time Vezina Trophy winner, who has been one of the most consistently strong playoff goaltenders these last two postseasons.

The team’s leading scorer these playoffs is Matthew Tkachuk, who the team acquired from the Calgary Flames in the 2022 offseason.

Aleksander Barkov, team captain and now two-time Selke winner, is averaging a point-per-game these playoffs while defending some of the league’s premier players along the way (and doing a pretty good job at that).


Far and away, the Oiler’s biggest X-factor is their goaltending. 

Stuart Skinner, the Oilers’ starting goalie, has been extremely inconsistent at best and borderline unplayable at times during these playoffs.

Skinner currently boasts a save percentage of 89.7% and was even pulled during game 3 of the second round against the Vancouver Canucks in favor of backup Calvin Pickard.

For context, the league average for save percentage has been around 91.0% over the past two decades.

Skinner recorded a save percentage of 85% or worse in five games these playoffs.

Although Skinner’s performance has been rocky for the Oilers, Skinner managed to bounce back in the western conference finals against the Dallas Stars, where he recorded a save percentage of 92.2%, as well as holding Dallas to two or fewer goals in games four, five and six to propel the Oilers to three straight wins and clinch a berth the final round.

The series against the Stars proved that Skinner is capable of performing well when it matters the most, but it is hard to shake the feeling that the Dallas series may have been an outlier.

As for the Florida Panthers, their X-factor is their center, Sam Reinhart.

Reinhart scored 57 goals during the regular season, 27 of which were on the power play.

Currently, Reinhart has 8 goals in 17 games these playoffs, including 4 power play goals.

If the Panthers want to overcome what has been the best penalty killing unit these playoffs, Reinhart must continue to do what he does best and score on special teams.


Despite question marks about Edmonton’s goaltending situation, they have managed to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals regardless. 

With how the Oilers’ skaters are playing, one could argue they could have put anyone in net and still made it this far.

In many ways, these playoffs feel like they are destined to end with Connor McDavid winning his first Stanley Cup.

I predict the Oilers beat the Panthers in 6 games with McDavid winning the Conn Smythe Trophy.

The Panthers are favored to win the series according to DraftKings.

Catch game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals Saturday, June 8 at 8 p.m. EST on ABC.

Michael Neenan is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Michael Neenan, General Assignment Reporter
Michael is a senior journalism major with a public relations minor. He works as a reporter, covering topics from sports to university administration. Contact him at [email protected]

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