75% of NHL analysts predict Edmonton Oilers will lose Stanley Cup Finals to Florida Panthers

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Seventy-five per cent of NHL analysts predict the Edmonton Oilers will lose the Stanley Cup to the Florida Panthers

Most damning of the Oilers is a survey of NHL coaches and executives done by Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic that found that just four of 33 NHL kingpins believe the Oilers will beat the Panthers.

“Am I surprised most people are picking the Florida Panthers to beat the Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Final?,” asked LeBrun. “No. They’re favored, after all. But I am surprised for sure that my survey of NHL head coaches and front-office executives was as lopsided toward the Panthers as it was. In all, I heard back from 17 head coaches and 16 team executives. Out of those 33 responses, only four had the Oilers winning the Cup.”

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In total, out of 134 commentators and analysts identified so far by the Cult of Hockey, 101 picked the Panthers, though at the Cult of Hockey itself all three writers picked the Oilers, Bruce McCurdy and Kurt Leavins with Edmonton in seven, me with Edmonton in six.

At the Daily Faceoff, five out of eight voters, including Frank Seravalli and Jason Gregor, also picked the Oilers to win.

But we two were the only groups of voters who favoured Edmonton at any one publication.

The Athletic’s own model found that the series is a complete toss up, with both Florida and Edmonton having a 50 per cent chance of winning. “This series is a fitting reminder that not everything can be predicted, prognosticated or plotted out in advance. After nine months of prelude, we’re about to watch a clash between the two most talented teams in the league — and one that couldn’t be any closer. It’s time to sit back and enjoy it,” wrote Dom Luszczyszyn, Sean Gentille and Shayna Goldman

But the staff writers and editors at The Athletic went with the Panthers 80 per cent to 20 per cent for the Oilers.

At the Fourth Period, 11 out of 13 voters favoured the Panthers.

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At Dobber Hockey, it was 13 to five in favour of the Panthers, saying: “Edmonton remains an underdog for the Stanley Cup Final, although there are a few more writers on board with them this time. Florida is the slight betting favorite for this series, so it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that the majority of writers here favor the Panthers to win their first-ever Stanley Cup.”

At NHL.com 10 out of 16 picked the Panthers. Columnist Nicholas J. Cotsonika picked the Oilers, saying: “Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are incredible, and so are Edmonton’s special teams. The Panthers take a ton of penalties. Even with a strong penalty kill, that’s not a recipe for success against the Oilers. This could be a series in which Florida is deeper and better 5-on-5, but it doesn’t matter in the end.”

But NHL.com Editor-in-Chief Bill Price picked the Panthers: “Despite being the only United States-born staffer to pick the Oilers in the Western Conference Final, I can’t pick against the Panthers here. Let’s face it, the Panthers are not only a wagon, they are a wagon on a mission.”

As did senior director of editorial Shawn P. Roarke: “Florida is the best team in the tournament. They don’t have the best players — Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers are clearly the best players in the League — but the Panthers are the best team. They have shut down good players in each of the first three rounds, mainly because of center Aleksander Barkov and three elite defensemen — Gustav Forsling, Brandon Montour and Aaron Ekblad. Also, they have a clear advantage in goal in Sergei Bobrovsky.”

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At Star Local Media, Iain MacMillan picked the Oilers. “I’m sticking with my preseason Stanley Cup prediction and taking the Oilers to win this series. The greatest players find ways to win and I firmly believe this is McDavid’s time.”

But Adam Proteau, senior digital correspondent of The Hockey News, who has yet to predict the Oilers to win a round this playoff season, stuck to his guns and picked the Panthers. “Florida has outstanding depth, an ornery disposition, and the bitter taste still in their collective mouth from last year’s defeat in the Cup final. That’s just about all you can ask for from them. Because of that, Edmonton will face an uphill battle.”

Brian Murphy of The Sporting News also picked Florida: “With the Panthers, there really is no weakness… Florida can beat you in so many ways, which is what makes the team incredibly dangerous this time of year. The Panthers can play fast and beat you in transition in high-scoring affairs, or they can shut down the defensive zone and come out on top in a goaltending battle. Perhaps the most important fact is that no one can muck it up quite like the Cats — a requirement this time of year on the hockey calendar.”

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The gambling sites favour the Panthers.

At Sports Betting Dime,  Brady Trettenero said: “Goaltending is a clear advantage for Florida, but this was also the case for Dallas in the previous round, and we all know how that played out. This is a tough matchup to call, but we think the Panthers are just built better to win a seven-game series at this point of the year… The Cats scored at will against the Oilers this regular season, and Stuart Skinner still owns a playoff save percentage below .900 despite some strong recent play. The Rangers were flying on offense before running into this stifling Panthers’ defense, and we envision a similar scenario playing out for the offense-first Oilers this round.”

At Pinnacle, analyst Scott Cullen said, “It appears that depth gives the Panthers an edge, but it’s going to be worth tracking the series price because it has moved in Florida’s direction and there could become a point at which the value swings towards Edmonton as the underdogs.”

Gary Pearson of SportsBook Review said, “While the Oilers have showcased their resilience by eliminating the winners of both the Pacific and Central Divisions, the Panthers boast a battle-tested and experienced lineup that has dominated various aspects of their journey to the final, including territorial control and expected goals battle.”

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At Odd Shark, Michel Anderson said: “Historical betting trends strongly suggest that Florida will win this year. We also can’t forget that Florida’s path has been daunting. Specifically when you look at the goaltending they pushed through. In Round 1 it was 2-time Cup champ Andrei Vasilevskiy, then Jeremy Swayman who was phenomenal with a 0.917SV% and then a nearly flawless Shesterkin who held a glowing 0.930SV% and 2.25GAA. I can’t bet against Florida, Specifically with Edmonton’s wildly inconsistent goaltending.”

At Oddschecker, they had the Panthers with a 63.7 per cent chance of winning. “Bettors are hammering the Florida Panthers to win the 2024 Stanley Cup Finals over Edmonton.”

Darryl Reina of Real GM picked the Panthers as did Erich Richter of the New York Post, saying, “The Panthers are a rightful favorite and could be prepared to bring The Cup home to Florida.”

Finally, at TNT sports network, analysts Anson Carter, Henrik Lundqvist and Paul Bissonnette all picked Florida, with Biznasty saying, “I hope it goes seven, and I think it’s Florida’s year. Top-to-bottom they are the better team. Maybe the back end is the bottom pairing is going to have to play their best hockey if they are going to have a chance.”

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But you know who voted for Edmonton?

Wayne Gretzky.

“I will be great for hockey if Florida wins,” he said, “But you know where my heart is.”

My take

1. The NHL analysts have been wrong in the past, though not in Edmonton’s first two series, where 89 per cent picked the Oilers over the Kings and 94 per cent picked them to beat Vancouver. Against Dallas, 80 per cent favoured the Stars over the Oilers.

2. Why do I favour the Oilers. I’ve said repeatedly that the only team that can beat the Oilers are the Oilers. I feared that would happen last round against Dallas given Stuart Skinner’s iffy play against Vancouver. He’d not yet played consistently strong net in the playoffs and I worried that wouldn’t happen. But it did happen. And it can happen again against Florida.

I pick Edmonton because Edmonton has the most scoring talent, because it’s depth at forward is greatly under-estimated, in particular now that coach Kris Knoblauch has put together a super solid checking line in Adam Henrique, Mattias Janmark and Connor Brown, one that can take heavy minutes agains the Barkov or Bennett lines. Knoblauch has also found a way to hide and minimize some shaky puck-moving on defence. It’s been something of a juggling act but so far the Oilers have kept all the balls in the air.

And now that the team is this close, and this good, I don’t see Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl losing. I see them winning.

At the Cult of Hockey

McCURDY: Knoblauch concocts excellent checking line

STAPLES: NHL oracle assesses Panthers’ unique threat to Oilers

McCURDY: Oilers’ road to SCF paved by golden special teams

STAPLES: Good news — Kane expected to play in Game 1

STAPLES: Outrage from hockey world after ‘cringey’ fan encounter with Connor McDavid

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