Oilers look to become first Canadian team in over 30 years to hoist Lord Stanley’s mug

Montreal Canadians were last team to win in 1993. Pictured: Edmonton Oilers Captain Connor McDavid. Photo Credit: Connor McDavid/X.

It’s hard to believe that the Montreal Canadiens, featuring St. Catharines native Brian Bellows, were the last Canadian team to win the NHL Stanley Cup back in 1993.

The Edmonton Oilers will try and win their sixth championship starting Saturday night in Game 1 of the best of seven Stanley Cup Final. The Florida Panthers, who feature former Niagara IceDogs captain Carter Verhaeghe, will provide the opposition. 

According to most so-called experts, pundits and oddsmakers – the Panthers are the favorites. 

This will be Florida’s second straight trip to the Stanley Cup Finals after losing to the Vegas Golden Knights in five games last season. 

Let’s see how both these teams got here.

Edmonton’s turnaround season is truly one for the ages. 

The Oilers started the season (2-9-1) before eventually firing head coach Jay Woodcroft and replacing him with Connor McDavid’s junior coach with the Erie Otters in Kris Knoblauch.

The Oilers would reel off a 16-game win streak and work themselves back into a playoff position.

Now they’re just four wins away from winning their first Stanley Cup since 1990.

Edmonton knocked off the Los Angeles Kings in five games, followed by ousting the Pacific Division Champion Vancouver Canucks in seven games, then triumphed over the Central Division Champion Dallas Stars in six games.

Florida on the other hand took their state cousins, the Tampa Bay Lightning, down in five games, bested the Boston Bruins in six games, and then advanced to the finals with a six-game victory over the first overall, President’s Trophy winning, New York Rangers. 

The Panthers have the advantage with Stanley Cup and playoff experience. 

Let’s break down both teams’ lineups. 

Both teams have 50-goal scorers. Florida with former Buffalo Sabre Sam Reinhart, Edmonton with former Toronto Maple Leaf Zach Hyman. 

Arguably the NHL’s top player in Connor McDavid had 100 points during the regular season for the Oilers, while Reinhart led the Panthers with 94. 

You could say Edmonton has the advantage on the blueline as Evan Bouchard put up a very impressive 82 points in just 81 games this past season. Gustav Forsling led Florida with just 39. 

Lost in the playoffs is that the top three scorers all play for the Oilers. McDavid with 31, Leon Draisaitl with 28 and Bouchard with 27. 

Hyman leads all players in goals with 14.

Matthew Tkachuk leads Florida with 19 points this postseason. 

Give the nod in net to the Panthers with Sergei Bobrovsky who played 80 NHL playoff games, compared to just 28 for the Oilers Stuart Skinner. 

Coaching, again you must give the advantage to Florida’s Paul Maurice with his experience, as Kris Knoblauch is still a rookie in this league. 

So, will the 31-year Stanley Cup win drought end for a Canadian team, or will the Florida Panthers play spoiler?

It all starts Saturday night in Sunrise, Florida.

“There’s going to be pressure playing in the Stanley Cup final, no matter where your team’s from,” McDavid said. “We’re a Canadian team, we’ve got great Canadian fans, and it feels good to maybe unite the country a little bit and have something to bring people together.”

“Sports is all about is bringing people together and hopefully we’re doing that for Canadians across the country.” 

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