Stanley Cup Final G7: Oilers-Panthers Preview, Props, Odds

League: NHL

Posted on: 24 Jun, 2024 at 08:33 PM

Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The thrill of victory and agony of defeat that are at stake in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final are next-level.

The routes both the Florida Panthers and Edmonton Oilers have taken to reach the winner-take-all clash will take those emotions off the charts.

The Panthers play host to the Oilers on Monday night in Sunrise, Fla., on the heels of blowing a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven championship series.

Despite the momentum built by the Oilers over the past three games, the Panthers are consensus 1.5-goal favorites at home.

The significant spread has led to plenty of support for Edmonton at BetRivers, where the Oilers have been backed by 71 percent of the spread-line bets and 55 percent of the money. Their -107 moneyline has also been more popular, drawing 58 and 65 percent of the action, respectively.

The teams have combined to average 6.3 goals through the first six games, although that number was boosted by 17 total tallied in Games 4-5. The other four games have averaged 5.25 goals, and the 5.0 Over/Under at BetRivers has seen the Over backed by 72 percent of the money.

Leon Draisaitl Anytime Goal (+180 at DraftKings): The Oilers center is bound to break through at some point -- at least that's what the public thinks in making this the most popular Anytime Goal prop at the book. Draisaitl hasn't found the back of the next with any of his 16 shots through the first six games and hasn't scored since Game 4 of the Western Conference finals after racking up 41 goals during the regular season.

Connor McDavid U0.5 Power Play Points (-124 at BetRivers): This has drawn the most money of any player prop at the book at 3.3 percent. McDavid has recorded three power play points during the series -- all coming on assists in Games 4 and 5. He has 17 power play points through 24 playoff games this year.

Only once in finals history has a team failed to close out the series when up 3-0, the 1942 Detroit Red Wings, who lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Conversely, the Oilers are not only looking to cap an incredible comeback in the same manner as those Maple Leafs, but they also risk becoming the second team in NHL history to erase a three-game deficit only to lose the finals in Game 7. (Coincidentally, it was the 1945 Red Wings who took that path and ended up losing to Toronto, again.)

The pressure is huge. Or is it?

"Game 7, at home, how could you not be so jacked up?" Florida forward Matthew Tkachuk said. "This is an absolutely incredible, incredible opportunity. So, yes, you want to recognize or remember some of the good things that helped you beat these guys earlier in the series, but I'm trying to forget all of it. Just go in there and win one game. This is what it comes down to."

It sounds simple, but the Panthers have failed three consecutive times to close out a series they appeared to have complete control of, and have done so in stunning fashion. Starting with an 8-1 victory in Game 4, the Oilers have outscored the Panthers 18-5 in the past three outings. Florida has not held a lead in any of those defeats.

Suffering a reverse-sweep loss with a shot at winning the first Cup in franchise history would be a painful experience on its own, but doing it in such inglorious fashion would be crushing.

The key for the Panthers will be not allowing the negative thoughts to paralyze their game.

"Game 6, there are a lot of options in your mind. Game 7, it's one game and you just have to prepare yourself," Florida forward Vladimir Tarasenko said.

"We still have another chance to win a Cup. You have to fix what you have to fix and come in with a positive mindset and believe in the guy next to you. This maybe sounds pretty simple, but it is what it is."

The home team boasts a 12-5 record all-time in Game 7 of the finals but the road team has won the last three.

The Oilers are well aware they have the opportunity to make history by earning the franchise's first Cup since 1990.

"We're all human and we're aware of what we've accomplished so far, but if you go past that, it comes down to one game," Draisaitl said. "We have to focus on winning one hockey game on the road and play our best. Everything else, all the stories, will take care of itself after."

That said, Edmonton's skaters must not get ahead of themselves by thinking they are a runaway train that cannot be stopped.

Panthers coach Paul Maurice made a "solely hockey based" decision to put Kyle Okposo into the lineup Monday night. That leaves Nick Cousins on the bench. Cousins played in Game 6, his first appearance in the series. He played in 11 games over the previous three playoff series, notching one assist and nine shots with a minus-1 rating.

Okposo has two assists in 16 playoff appearances this season and is also minus-1. He played in the first five games against Edmonton.

"I just felt that looking back at the three previous games, Kyle had played slightly better. There are other options with Kyle, like how he comes off the bench in certain situations," Maurice said, per ESPN. "It's a difficult thing to do to take a Game 7 away from somebody. It's such a rare thing, and Nick is so incredibly loved by his team."

Cousins, 31, has played 592 games with six different teams over a 10-year career, scoring 71 goals with 109 assists.

Okposo, 36, is looking to hoist the Stanley Cup for the first time in his 17-year career. He spent nine seasons with the New York Islanders, followed by eight with the Sabres before landing in Florida. He has 614 points (242 goals and 372 assists) in 1,051 games.

"I grabbed my son today, who's 8, and said, 'You know what I was doing when I was your age? I was in the driveway with my Rollerblades on pretending I was in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. How special is it you're going to the game?" Okposo said Monday.

--Road teams have won each of the past three Game 7s in the Stanley Cup Final.
--The Oilers have won six consecutive playoff series closeout games.

"You've got to prepare just like you always do. It's not your ordinary game, everybody understands that, but you've got to make it as ordinary as possible in your head, and part of that is just sticking to your routine. Our room has done a great job of being at our best in big moments and I would not expect anything different." -- McDavid

--Field Level Media