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Florida Panther Quench their 31-year Drought with Franchise’s First Stanley Cup Victory

Credit: Shutterstock/YES Market Media

Last week, the Florida Panthers took home their very first Stanley Cup title. The road to the cup was not an easy one.

At the beginning of the championship series, the Panthers were looking for a sweep, setting the tone by winning the first 3 games. However, the Edmonton Oilers responded with 3 wins of their own, forcing a Game 7. With momentum behind them, it was looking like a fourth win would fall in favor of the Oiler.

But the Panthers persisted.

Let’s review the history of both franchises. How did the Panthers pull of this win? What did they have to do to get here? What does this mean for the franchise going forward?

Florida Panthers History

The Panthers added to the National Hockey League in 1993, being named the southernmost hockey team in the league, based in Sunrise, Florida. During their 1993-1994 season, they set the record for most points scored by a team in their inaugural season.

Panther’s home stadium is BB&T Stadium. Credit: Shutterstock/ YES Market Media

Since the expansion in 1993, the franchise struggled to make splashes in the playoffs. In fact, between 1993 and 2020, they only qualified for the playoffs five times.

Most in the league wrote them off, however recently they have made leaps and bounds. Last year, they made it to the finals against the Las Vegas Golden Knights and this year the reached the finals again.

The history of the franchise is short and sweet, being such a new addition to the NHL but also not being the most notable of NHL teams. In fact, the fan base is often laughed at by the rest of the league.

Nevertheless, they finished the season with a record of 52-24-6

Edmonton Oilers History

The Oilers, on the other hand, have a rich history in the NHL. They are tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the most championships won. They had a seven-year dynasty from 1983-1990 before the Panthers were even added to the NHL. Additionally, they won six straight division titles from 1981-1987.

Since this reign, they have experienced their own drought, which they were hoping to quench this season.

Statue of Wayne Gretzky outside of Roger’s Place. Credit: Shutterstock/ Alarico

The Oilers also housed one of the most notable hockey players in the NHL. Wayne Gretzky has been largely regarded as the best player to be in league. He spent the majority of his career with the Edmonton Oilers. He’s known for his inspirational quotes and being the leading goal scorer and assist producer even decades after his retirement.

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Wayne Gretzky

This year, they went on a 16-game win streak and ending the season with a record of 49-27-5.

Panthers in the Playoffs

Focusing on the final series of the playoffs, the Panthers were looking to sweep the Oilers. They set the tone early by winning games with a score differential of 3 two games in a row. It was clear they were hungry for the first franchise title. However, after beginning the series with 3 solid wins, they would get smacked by the Oilers in Game 4 with a score of 1-8.

Oilers began to outscore the Panthers as the series continued. Connor McDavid would be the head of this movement, outscoring Panthers with his own 4 goals against the Panthers combined total of 4.

This is to not discredit the defense on the Panthers. After pulling their GK in Game 5, Panther’s own Matthew Tkachuk would lay out for a viral save.

@cbssports Despite the Panthers’ Game 5 loss, this is nuts #nhl #hockeyboys #hockeytok ♬ original sound – CBS Sports

While this save kept the Panthers in the game, they would go on to lose Game 5 and Game 6. Going into Game 7, the Oilers would hold the momentum being only the 4th team to force a seventh game and ultimately be favored to take home the championship with their historic comeback.

Game 7

The first period began with a very aggressive offense on both ends. With attacks followed by counterattacks, it was inevitable that one team would find the back of the net. Both teams would. The Panthers were first to set the pace, but the Oilers followed not long after.

The second period would feature the Panther’s lockdown defense with goalkeeper Sergei Bobrovsky keeping the team locked in and pucks lockout. This period would also see the game winning goal by Sam Reinhart. A beautiful counter attack from the right side and shot from distance would be just enough to put the Panthers ahead.

The third and final period would consist of staling done by Florida and aggressive offense by Edmonton. The final moments of the game would be against the plexiglass walls with the Panthers running down the clock.

Below is a highlight reel from the game.

Going Forward

Now, what does this mean for the franchise? Well, hopefully, it will increase stadium attendance. Attracting new fans to the small fan base might be in the cards for the Florida franchise. On the roster, they’ve selected 6 new players from the NHL draft. At the time of this article, trades and contracts are still being negotiated. Click here to see all the updates across the league.

Regardless, the Florida Panthers have a bright future ahead of them with stars like Reinhart and Bobrovsky staying with the organization. Their shortened off season will be a busy one in preparation for the upcoming 2024-2025 NHL season starting in October.

Written By

I am a student-athlete from Tampa, Florida and I am currently working toward my Bachelor of Science in Sport Management with an emphasis in Marketing, looking to graduate in the Spring of 2025. After university, I hope to join the sport industry and specialize in Game Day Operations and Event Organization while continuing my love for sport by coaching soccer in my free time.

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