HabsWorld.net -- 

After what seemed like a long break of five days off after the Western Conference Final was decided, the Stanley Cup Final is about to get started. The HabsWorld writers shared their predictions on who will emerge victorious from hockey’s biggest spotlight.

Oren Weizman predicts: Oilers in 6 games
Norm Szcyrek predicts: Oilers in 6 games
Terry Costaris predicts: Oilers in 7 games
Brian La Rose predicts: Panthers in 6 games

(Oren) The 2024 Stanley Cup Final is set to be a barn burner, folks. On one side, we have the Edmonton Oilers, finally breaking through the Western Conference ceiling with the help of the new-age hockey wizard himself, Wayne … Grerrr …. Connor McDavid, and his trusty sidekick, Mark Messss… ahh sorry again, Leon Draisaitl. It’s been 34 long years since the Oilers last hoisted the Cup, and the loyal fans in Edmonton can practically taste the champagne. Zach Hyman and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are ready to light up the scoreboard, and the Oilers’ defence has tightened up just in time. Stuart Skinner may not be an elite goalie yet, but he’s shown enough flashes of brilliance to keep hopes high.

Then, we have the Florida Panthers, clawing their way back to the finals after last year’s bitter loss. With Sergei Bobrovsky guarding the net like a fortress, Aleksander Barkov quietly dominating, and Matthew Tkachuk proving Calgary should have built him a castle with a mote, the Panthers have depth and grit in spades. They’ve already taken down the Lightning, Bruins, and Rangers to get here, and they’re hungry for their first Cup. But let’s not kid ourselves – this Oilers team has an aura of destiny about them. So, grab your popcorn and settle in, because my money’s on McDavid and the Oilers taking it all in six games.

(Norm) When thinking about this Stanley Cup final, at first I was torn between my heart and my head. My heart is leaning towards the Oilers because it would be good to see a Canadian team that I do not dislike win sport’s most glorious trophy and bring it back to rest in Canada. My head said, the Panthers have been dominating their opposition, and have played a very tough playoff style.

In goal, the Panthers have an edge with Sergei Bobrovsky, although Skinner has surprised many by playing better series by series. On defence, the Panthers have a solid pair in Brandon Montour and Gustav Forsling, with veteran Aaron Ekblad who is excellent both ways. Edmonton boasts Evan Bouchard with Mattias Ekholm, with Darnell Nurse playing perhaps the best hockey of his career in a shutdown role.

Up front, Edmonton has the best pair of centres in the world with McDavid and Draisaitl, along with a sniper in Hyman and great two-way forward Nugent-Hopkins. The Panthers boast forwards Matthew Tkachuk, Aleksander Barkov and, Carter Verhaeghe.

When it comes down to it, I am leaning towards the Oilers because of two X factors. Since their head coach was replaced by Kris Knoblauch, Edmonton has the best winning percentage in the league at a .727 clip. The next X factor is their two special teams units. The Oilers’ power play has been phenomenal scoring at 37.3 percent. Edmonton’s penalty killing has also been at an elite level, with a 93.9 success rate. When it comes to injuries, both Edmonton (Evander Kane) and Florida (Verhaeghe) have players unofficially hurt but playing through it. In the end, I am giving the nod to Edmonton, whose superstars will finally lift Lord Stanley’s precious cup.

(Terry) I predict that Edmonton will win in seven. I can’t believe that I just said this. My reasoning here has little to do with logic and everything to do with precedent.

For many years now, the team that has won the Stanley Cup was one that few expected to do so. And the least likely team remaining is the Edmonton Oilers. Ergo, I’m going to go with precedent despite how unlikely it is that Edmonton will bring Lord Stanley back to Canada.

The logical side in me sees the Florida Panthers grinding down the Edmonton Oilers. They are a more complete team with a lot of edge.

Nevertheless, this is my prediction and I’m sticking to it. “The City of Champions” will once again become the City of Champions. Oilers in 7. (Oh, in the event that I am wrong with this prognostication, I actually meant Florida would win).

(Brian) If there’s a team that can slow down Edmonton’s top players, it’s Florida.  They’re quietly one of the top defensive teams in the league and even slowing those players down should be enough to be the difference as I’ve yet to see any reason to think that their secondary scoring will make an impact.  Florida’s depth is much more impressive and even if Edmonton’s defence (which did pretty well last round) can slow down the Panthers’ top forwards, I trust the depth scoring to have some success.  I don’t trust either goalie so I’ll go with the team that’s a bit deeper and more experienced.