Stanley Cup Final Preview June 8, 2024 – GAME 1 IS A BIG ONE IN THE STANLEY CUP FINAL

The final round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs begins tonight when Connor McDavid leads the Oilers into their first Stanley Cup Final game since June 19, 2006, against Aleksander Barkov and the Panthers who will host Game 1 of the Final for the first time. It has been 34 years since Edmonton held a series lead in the Stanley Cup Final, while Florida seeks its first such advantage.

  • Game 1 of the Final has been won by the home team in eight of the past 10 years. The exceptions in that time frame were in 2020 when Corey Perry and Mattias Janmark helped Dallas defeat Tampa Bay as the designated road team in the “bubble” at Rogers Place in Edmonton, along with 2015 when the Blackhawks traveled to Florida to skate away with the Final opener at Tampa.
  • Claiming the opener often leads to lifting “Lord Stanley” as 76.2% of Game 1 winners in a best-of-seven Final have gone on to secure the Cup (64-20), including 83.6% who pull ahead 1-0 as the home team (51-10).
  • The Panthers scored the first goal in Game 1 against the Golden Knights last year but lost in one of 41 comeback wins across the 105 Game 1s in Final history (39.0%). The 2023 opener also marked the sixth time in seven years that the championship series started with teams combining for six or more goals.

FLORIDA, EDMONTON LOOK FOR DIFFERENT FATE IN STANLEY CUP FINAL OPENER

A quick look back at each club’s most recent Stanley Cup Final Game 1:

  • Florida fans likely recall that Game 1 of the 2023 Final turned when Vegas goaltender Adin Hill made a sprawling stop against Nick Cousins that mirrored “The Save” by Braden Holtby made in the same crease five years earlier. Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky made a memorable sprawling save of his own in the opening round of this year’s playoffs – a Game 2 stop against Tampa Bay that kept the score tied in an eventual overtime victory that allowed his club to take a 2-0 series lead.
  • Edmonton’s last Game 1 in the Stanley Cup Final may also linger in the minds of Oilers fans as the team pulled ahead 3-0 – thanks in part to the only penalty-shot goal in Stanley Cup Final history – before falling 5-4. That was one of six three-goal comeback wins in any contest during the Final (also the most recent) and concluded with the sixth-latest go-ahead goal in regulation in the history of the championship series (Rod Brind’Amour at 19:28 of P3).

FINAL FEATURES VETERAN HEAD COACH MAURICE, ROOKIE BENCH BOSS KNOBLAUCH

The 2024 Stanley Cup Final pits Panthers head coach and 1,848-game veteran Paul Maurice against Oilers bench boss Kris Knoblauch, who has just 69 career contests after being hired by Edmonton in November. Their 1,779-game difference marks the most between head coaches in a Final, surpassing the previous high of 1,579 from when Maurice (562 GC) met Scotty Bowman (2,141 GC) during the 2002 championship series.

  • Maurice would have the most games by a bench boss in NHL history at the time of his first championship, besting Barry Trotz (1,524 GC; 2018 WSH). Maurice made his head coaching debut as a 28-year-old and can become the fourth bench boss in League history with a Cup at age 57 or older, following Bowman (2002 DET, 1998 DET, 1997 DET & 1992 PIT), Dick Irvin (1953 MTL) and Bruce Cassidy (2023 VGK).
  • Knoblauch can become the fifth head coach in the NHL’s expansion era (since 1967-68) with a championship in his first season, following Dan Bylsma (2009 PIT), Jean Perron (1986 MTL), Al MacNeil (1971 MTL) and Claude Ruel (1969 MTL). Knoblauch can also join Bylsma, MacNeil, Craig Berube (2019 STL), Mike Sullivan (2016 PIT), Darryl Sutter (2012 LAK) and Larry Robinson (2000 NJD) as the seventh bench boss in the expansion era to win a Cup with a franchise after taking over head coaching duties midseason.

NHL SCOUTING COMBINE CONCLUDES SATURDAY WITH FITNESS TESTING
Macklin Celebrini (No. 1-ranked North American skater) was one of five players who met with the media Friday before the 2024 NHL Scouting Combine presented by adidas concludes with fitness testing Saturday. After the players partook in a VO2 Max test on Friday, Celebrini, Artyom Levshunov (No. 2-ranked NA skater), Cayden Lindstrom (No. 3-ranked NA skater), Zeev Buium (No. 4-ranked NA skater) and Zayne Parekh (No. 5-ranked NA skater) were all part of a press conference on the eve of final fitness testing.

STANLEY CUP FINALS SCHEDULE

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