Oilers vs. Panthers Prediction & Odds Game 1: Today's Stanley Cup Final Expert Picks
Oilers vs. Panthers Prediction & Odds Game 1: Today's Stanley Cup Final Expert Picksiv class=”bodyContent col-lg-9 mb-3″>

Gary Pearson makes his best Oilers-Panthers prediction for Game 1 of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final based on the top NHL odds for Saturday's series opener in Sunrise, Fla. 

The Edmonton Oilers make their long-awaited return to the Stanley Cup Final tonight, doing so against a Florida Panthers team that represented the Eastern Conference in a losing effort against the Vegas Golden Knights a year ago. The Panthers are moderate favorites by the Stanley Cup odds as the series gets underway.

Game 1 is set to commence shortly after 8 p.m. ET on ABC, ESPN+, and Sportsnet in Canada. Betway has pegged the Oilers as +115 underdogs for this highly anticipated clash.

Connor McDavid, the leading contender by the Conn Smythe Trophy odds and focus of our Game 1 prediction, showcased his extraordinary talent in the Western Conference Final by netting six points i n the last three games, ultimately steering the Oilers to victory over the Dallas Stars.

Accompanying our Oilers vs. Panthers player props and our Oilers vs. Panthers parlay, here is our best Oilers vs. Panthers prediction and our NHL picks for Game 1.

Oilers vs. Panthers Game 1 prediction

Odds via our best NHL betting sites; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5-star scale.

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final is in Sunrise, Fla., where Connor McDavid was selected as the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. While McDavid won't require additional motivation, returning to where it all started must be meaningful for the Oilers' captain, who will make his Stanley Cup Final debut in Florida on Saturday. 

Every time you think McDavid has reached his ceiling, he ascends to a higher peak. The Oilers' Stanley Cup chances are heavily predicated on whether McDavid can conjure an elevated level again. There was a noticeable shift in his mindset, or at least there appeared to be, after he was held off the scoresheet in Game 2 against the Stars. Not only was he prevented from notching a point for the fourth time in the postseason, but he registered only one shot on goal.

McDavid averaged 2.64 shots per playoff contest at that point, almost a full shot less than his regular-season tally. Considering the increased level of the playoffs, that palpable decline makes sense for most players. But McDavid isn't like most players. He's like a mountainous town whose climate doesn't depend on another. He creates his own weather, usually manifesting as a Category-5 hurricane.

After Game 2, he adopted a shoot-first mentality, exemplified by his 18 shots, an average of 4.5 shots, in the final four games of the Western Conference Final. He fired six, five, and five shots i n Games 3, 4, and 5, respectively. Even in Game 6, a contest thoroughly dominated by the Stars, McDavid had two of the Oilers' 10 shots. 

While a small sample size, McDavid's intentions are clear: to fire more shots on goal while deferring to his teammates less. The Panthers, who have allowed only 24.5 shots per game during the postseason, should provide the sternest test yet for McDavid. But if we know anything about the world's greatest hockey player, it's that he can always summit a higher peak. The +105 odds imply a winning probability of 48.78%, and a $10 winning bet pays a profit of $10.50. 

Best odds: +105 via Betway

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Game 1 key players

Alexsander Barkov Connor McDavid
19.4% of shifts starting in offensive zone:  14 power-play points 
22 takeaways (leads all skaters) 4.5 shots per game in last four contests 
15 giveaways (tied 8th) 8 points in last four games 
60% Corsi Rating 21:16 average ice time in last four games 

Alexsander Barkov will likely have the unenviable task of matching up against McDavid. The Panthers' captain, one of the league's best shutdown centers, won the previous battles against Nikita Kucherov, David Pastrnak, Artemi Panarin, and Vincent Trocheck, and to a slightly lesser extent, Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider. 

He leads the playoffs with 22 takeaways but has also coughed up possession 15 times. Barkov, who plays alongside Carter Verhaeghe and Sam Reinhart, defends by attacking. His 60% Corsi rating demonstrates how often he and his linemates control the play. 

However, he'll face the most formidable challenge of his career starting on Saturday. Going against the world's best player will be an excellent litmus test for Barkov, whose Corsi rating ranks fourth of the Panthers' forwards. Linemate Verhaeghe is second with 65%. 

Considering what&#3 9;s at stake and the proficiency of Florida's best shutdown players, I like the Under 5.5 goals market for Game 1. At -105, the odds offered at Betway imply a probability of 51.22%, and a $10 bet will pay a profit of $9.52 if it hits.

Oilers vs. Panthers Game 1 odds & info

  • When: Saturday, June 8
  • Puck drop: 8 p.m. ET
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise, Fla.
  • How to watch: ABC, ESPN+, Sportsnet
  • Favorite: Panthers (-135 via Betway)

Oilers-Panthers predictions made Friday at 11 a.m. ET.

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