Stanley Cup Final: What to know about Panthers vs. Oilers

The Stanley Cup Final will have a real 1993 vibe to it.

That’s the year that the Florida Panthers played their first season in the NHL and they are still seeking their first championship. That’s also the last time that a Canadian team (Montreal Canadiens) won a Stanley Cup title.

Regardless of whether the Panthers or Edmonton Oilers win the best-of-seven series that opens Saturday in Sunrise, Florida, a long drought will end.

Both teams overcame 2-1 series deficits in the conference final to advance.

‘We always believed in ourselves and each other and knew that putting ourselves in this position was always a possibility and it feel goods to have done that,’ Oilers star Connor McDavid said.

Here is a breakdown of the Stanley Cup Final:

Florida Panthers (Atlantic 1) vs. Edmonton Oilers (Pacific 2)

Regular-season records: Panthers – 52-24-6, 110 points. Oilers – 49-27-6, 104

How Panthers got here: Beat Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1, beat Boston Bruins 4-2, beat New York Rangers 4-2.

How Oilers got here: Beat Los Angeles Kings 4-1, beat Vancouver Canucks 4-3, beat Dallas Stars 4-2.

Season series: 2-0 Panthers, with Florida outscoring Edmonton 10-4

Expected goaltending matchup: Panthers’ Sergei Bobrovsky (12-5, 2.20, .908) vs. Oilers’ Stuart Skinner (11-5, 2.50, .897)

About the Florida Panthers

The Panthers and coach Paul Maurice are making their second consecutive trip to the Final. They lost last season to the Vegas Golden Knights in five games. But the Panthers are deeper and healthier than last season. They added three defensemen, including Oliver Ekman-Larsson, in the offseason to help them cope while Brandon Montour and Aaron Ekblad recovered from surgery. They also signed forward Evan Rodrigues and added former Stanley Cup winner Vladimir Tarasenko and Kyle Okposo at the deadline.

The Panthers come at you in waves. Their forechecking make it difficult for opponents to go up the ice. Captain Aleksander Barkov won a second career Selke Trophy as top defensive forward. Sam Reinhart, a 57-goal scorer, finished fourth in Selke voting. Sam Bennett is a hard hitter who scores clutch goals. Feisty leading scorer Matthew Tkachuk is familiar to the Oilers from his days with the Calgary Flames.

Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP) candidates: Barkov, Bobrovsky

About the Edmonton Oilers

This is McDavid’s first trip to the Final and the Oilers’ first trip since 2006, when they lost to the Carolina Hurricanes. They won championships in 1984, 1985, 1987 and 1988 with Wayne Gretzky and in 1990 after he was traded.

This team is known for its offense. The Oilers hold four of the league’s top five places on the NHL playoff scoring before Tkachuk comes in at No. 6. McDavid, who recorded a rare 100 assists in the regular season, leads the way with 31 points. Leon Draisaitl has 28 points and Evan Bouchard is the top defenseman with 27. Zach Hyman has a league-best 14 goals.

This season started poorly and Jay Woodcroft was fired with a 3-9-1 record. Kris Knoblauch, the Rangers’ American Hockey League coach, came in and improved the team’s all-around play. They had a 16-game winning streak this season. The penalty kill is perfect in the last 10 games. Knoblauch is willing to make tough decisions. He benched Skinner for two games and his play improved after his return.

Conn Smythe candidates: McDavid, Draisaitl, Bouchard, Hyman

Panthers vs. Oilers statistical breakdown

Goals per game: Oilers – 3.50 vs. 3.24

Goals against per game: Panthers – 2.29 vs 2.61

Five-on-five play: Panthers – 1.29 vs. 1.03

Power play: Oilers – 37.3% vs. 23.3%

Penalty kill: Oilers – 93.9% vs. 88.2%

Hits: Panthers – 739 vs. 563

Blocked shots: Oilers – 305 vs. 267

This post appeared first on USA TODAY