NHL Betting Preview (June 8): Panthers vs. Oilers Game 1 Predictions

Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers battles for position against Matthew Tkachuk #19 of the Florida Panthers during the game on November 28, 2022 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

And then there were two. The 2024 Stanley Cup Finals begin on Saturday Night, as the Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers enter the home stretch in their quests for glory. Both have a lot of history – good and bad – behind them and a lot of reason to back them to break free and take home hockey’s ultimate prize.

But both teams will have to win four games, not just one, so let’s look at what it’ll take for each side to claim the icebreaker tonight.

Bet on Panthers vs. Oilers GM 1

EDM +130
FLA -150

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The moneyline favourites are the Panthers, coming in between -140 and -150 on the top Canadian Sportsbooks.

Panthers vs. Oilers Best Odds

Panthers Moneyline Odds-140 @ Pinnacle
Oilers Moneyline Odds+130 @ Bet99
Puckline oddsOilers +1.5 (-213) @ Betano
Panthers -1.5 (+190) @ Proline+
Series oddsOilers +120, Panthers -140 @ Bet365
Total Over 5.5 goals (-111) @ Pinnacle
Under 5.5 goals (-101) @ Pinnacle
Time/DateJune 8, 8:00 p.m. ET
TVBroadcast: CBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Stream: Sportsnet+
(How to watch the NHL in Canada?)

Last Matchup

The last game between these two teams came in an interesting pocket for the Oilers—right between their eight-game win streak that started the season turnaround in November and their sixteen-game win streak that put it into high gear. Unfortunately, this game was maybe the weakest they had in that two-month stretch, as it was all Florida. Carter Veraheghe opened the scoring just five minutes in, followed by Brandon Montour and Aleksander Barkov both adding insurance in the final minute of the period.

Zach Hyman briefly gave the Oilers some hope with his eighteenth of the season in the second period, but Sam Bennett’s powerplay response and Verhaeghe’s second of the game, the latter of which was scored on the first shift of the third period, removed all doubt. Sam Gagner drew a penalty shot for good measure a few minutes later, but when he was denied, the last of the wind came out of Edmonton’s sails.

Betting Florida Panthers (12-5 SU, 7-10 ATS, 7-10 o/u)

For the Panthers, winning this series is about finally adding a banner to their rooftop, after a very mixed history. The team was one of the fastest ever to make a run from expansion to the Stanley Cup Final back in 1996, getting to the last stage just three years into their existence. From then on, though, it took them 26 years to get beyond the first round, including a decade-long playoff drought between 2001 and 2011. In recent years, the team has been much better, winning a President’s Trophy in 2022 and winning the Eastern Conference last year, but both occasions saw painful endings – the former a second-round defeat, the latter, a blowout series in favour of the Vegas Golden Knights.

This year has been somewhere in between that regular-season dominant 2022 and playoff-excellent 2023, with the Cats bouncing back 18 points in the final standings while using their experience to keep the momentum going in the spring. So far, they made quick work of their rival Tampa Bay Lightning in Round 1, eliminating them in five games. They faced the Boston Bruins, who they came back from the year before to start their run, in Round 2 and got through in six games, and played maybe their most complete series of the postseason against the New York Rangers, though Igor Shesterkin’s heroics meant that that one also went to six games.

Florida has been excellent on both ends of the puck throughout this run, conceding the third-fewest goals of all playoff teams while scoring the fourth-most goals. Their powerplay has been plenty capable, at 23.3%, and their PK is the second best, at 88.2%. They have the highest share of both the expected (55.0%) and actual (56.4%) goals at 5-on-5 in these playoffs, backed by an embarrassment of riches up front and on the blue line, while Sergei Bobrovsky has another very good run in goal.

Betting Edmonton Oilers (12-6 SU, 7-11 ATS, 9-9 o/u)

The Oilers not only have the opportunity to lift the demons of themselves but of a whole country with a series win. For themselves, the team is returning to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since their unexpected run in 2005/06, but it really might be their best team since their last Stanley Cup win, back in 1990. That cup was famous for being won without the dynasty group at full capacity, with Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey having both moved on, and Bill Ranford in goal instead of Grant Fuhr.

Since then, the Oilers went through their own stretch of darkness, with the 2006 run being an outlier. Between 1993 and 2019, the team won just six playoff rounds (three in 2006) and missed the playoffs eighteen times, including their own ten-year drought between 2007 and 2016. Drafting Connor McDavid first overall and unlocking another meteoric talent in Leon Draisaitl went a long way for them, and bit by bit, the pieces have come together to put them back in this spot.

For all of Canada, a win here would give the nation its first Stanley Cup since the 1993 Montreal Canadiens. To some, that doesn’t matter; to others, that matters a lot.

Edmonton arrives here after an awful start to their season, going 2-9-1 to open the year. That stretch lost Jay Woodcroft his job behind the bench, and while there were some questions about replacement Kris Knoblauch at first, you can’t argue with the results – the Oilers have posted the league’s best record since, and nearly every tough decision the team has had to make in the postseason has landed.

The Oilers come here through yet another first-round win against the Los Angeles Kings (4-1), a hard-fought, all-Canadian series against the Vancouver Canucks (4-3), and a slaying of the dragon against the Dallas Stars, who were a thorn in their side that prevented them from doing damage in playoffs past in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The performances of McDavid, Draisaitl, defenceman Evan Bouchard and net-front forward Zach Hyman have all pushed the group to new heights, but the fact that the support players beneath them have been able to keep games close, rather than digging a hole for the stars as they used to, has gone a long way for Edmonton this year.

Projected Panthers vs. Oilers Lines

Today’s Florida Panthers LinesToday’s Edmonton Oilers Lines
Carter Verhaeghe – Aleksander Barkov – Sam Reinhart
Matthew Tkachuk – Sam Bennett – Evan Rodrigues
Eetu Luostarinen – Anton Lundell – Vladimir Tarasenko
Steven Lorentz – Kevin Stenlund – Kyle Okposo

Gustav Forsling – Aaron Ekblad
Niko Mikkola – Brandon Montour
Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Dmitry Kulikov

Starting In Goal
Sergei Bobrovsky
Playoffs: 12-3-2, 2.20 GAA, 0.908 SV%
Season: 36-17-4, 2.37 GAA, 0.915 SV%
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Connor McDavid – Zach Hyman
Dylan Holloway – Leon Draisaitl – Evander Kane
Warren Foegele – Ryan McLeod – Corey Perry
Mattias Janmark – Adam Henrique – Connor Brown

Mattias Ekholm – Evan Bouchard
Darnell Nurse – Cody Ceci
Philip Broberg – Brett Kulak

Starting In Goal
Stuart Skinner
Playoffs: 11-4-1, 2.50 GAA, 0.897 SV%
Season: 36-16-5, 2.62 GAA, 0.905 SV%

Both lineups are pretty much at full capacity, and we’re expecting them to come in with something similar to what they closed the Conference Finals with. There could be stylistic tweaks, but I foresee that shift being more pronounced ahead of Game 2.

Matthew Tkachuk over 3.5 shots on goal


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Panthers vs. Oilers Injury Concerns

Everyone on both teams is healthy. Which is to say, more than a few of these players are probably banged up, but playing through something. It’s the Stanley Cup Finals, after all! But no one is officially sidelined by their ailments.

  • The Oilers and Panthers have a 5-5 split against each other in their last ten games, dating back to November 2018. The Panthers are 7-3 against the puck line in that stretch, and the total goals line has featured four overs, five unders, and a push. More recently, the Oilers have a 3-2 edge since February 2022 (straight up and puckline).
  • Edmonton is 7-3 in their last ten games, with a 4-6 record against the puckline. Their total goals line has seen two overs, seven unders, and a push.
  • The Panthers are also 7-3 in their last ten games, with a 2-8 record against the puckline. They’ve had two overs and eight unders against the total goals line. Florida has failed to meet the puckline in five consecutive games.
  • Connor McDavid and Evan Bouchard are the Oilers’ most productive skaters over their last ten games, each scoring three goals and a team-co-leading 11 assists. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zach Hyman co-lead the Oilers in goals over that stretch with five, while Hyman has the outright lead in shots with 40.
  • The Panthers have been lower-scoring, but they’ve found a way to get the job done. Matthew Tkachuk leads the team over their last ten games with nine points (one goal, nine assists), and also leads the team in shots on goal, with 40.
  • Sam Bennett and Sam Reinhart not only share first names and 2014 draft pedigree, but they also share the Panthers’ lead in goals over the last ten games, picking up five a piece.

Panthers vs. Oilers Predictions

  • In the midst of a goal drought and likely thinking about a slightly underwhelming 2023 Finals, I expect Matthew Tkachuk to open the series with a bang – or at least attempt to. His shots on goal line tonight sits at 3.5, a total he’s cleared in 10 of 17 games these playoffs, including two of the three series-openers. Your best value for that is on bet365, at +132. If you like him to go a step further and break his slump, Sports Interaction has the best value on a goal at +195.
  • Leon Draisaitl also has a bit to prove to himself after a relatively quiet series against the Dallas Stars. The thermonuclear shine has worn off a little bit on this playoff run, but he know he’s capable of turning the tide quickly. His best value for a point is at -230 on FanDuel, and they also carry his best value on a goal at +170.
  • I like the Oilers to steal home ice out of the gate in this one. I’m still not sure where this series goes, but this feels like a game where Florida may try a little too hard to assert their in-your-face identity and lose sight of the result. Should you agree, Bet99 has the best moneyline price for the Oilers at +130.

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