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Connor McDavid’s Has Fans Excited for His First Stanley Cup Final

There’s no question that Connor McDavid is the face of the NHL. Selected first overall by the Edmonton Oilers in the 2015 Draft, McDavid has lived up to, and surpassed, expectations. The one thing missing is a Stanley Cup, and now he has a chance; advancing to his first Stanley Cup Finals appearance with the Oilers, the franchise’s first appearance since 2006.

Following one of the most impressive regular season turnarounds ever, the best player in hockey, the kid stamped with the expectation of being the next “Great One” gets a shot at the big one. Fans should cherish this moment. Reflecting on the Oilers journey, a major 180 shaped this monumental season. From the overhauls in the coaching staff to their best skaters playing their best. Their response to season long adversity reveals a layer of complexity and determination other teams have not faced. 

The Journey to the Stanley Cup Finals

The Oilers found their winning ways against formidable opponents, including the Stars and the Canucks. Now, they arguably have their toughest test yet. The Florida Panthers have placed the clamps on their opponents all playoffs. They have shown that they wear teams down and are built to win one score hockey games. For any hockey purists, this series sets an incredible offensive skillset against a very disciplined Panthers defense. 

McDavid showed his brilliance in their Game 6 victory over the Dallas Stars to advance. Right out of the gate, McDavid led with a spectacular early goal, setting the pace for the game and ultimately securing a 2-1 win. They’ve been dying for another shot at the Cup, seeking their first title since 1990. 

Mid-Season Changes

The transformation started with the mid-season appointment of Kris Knoblauch as head coach, which turned their fortunes around from a dismal start to the season. Initially struggling with a record of 2-9-1, the Oilers surged to achieve the best points percentage (.703) post-hiring, illustrating the profound impact of this strategic change. From 30th in the standings to four wins away from the Stanley Cup. 

McDavid Playoff Stats

Connor McDavid’s playoff statistics are as good as you’d think. He has accrued a career total of 34 goals, 72 assists, and a plus-minus of +23 across 67 games. They just never had consistency in all facets of the organization before their mid season coaching change. This was the evidence that the Oilers just haven’t had the leadership behind the bench since drafting McDavid. He’d excite the crowd and get his numbers but it never produced winning at the highest level. This postseason has been different.  

McDavid’s performance in the 2023-24 playoffs alone, with five goals and 26 assists in 18 games, not only demonstrates his skill, but his willingness to get his teammates involved and make everyone around him better. Oilers legend Wayne Gretzky would tip his hat off to that statistic. The converging changes between their coaching and his play style have gotten them this far. 

Leon Draisaitl’s Support Role

Leon Draisaitl has been a dream line mate for years now. He will be another forward Panthers fans will fear in this series. In the 2023-24 playoffs, Draisaitl has scored 10 goals and amassed 28 points in 18 games. 

His synergy with McDavid, whether 5 on 5 or on the power play, reinforced their dynamic chemistry. Draisaitl’s consistent performance alongside McDavid has made him one of the top scorers our league has seen. It’s the first time we get to see that success make its to way to the biggest stage of hockey.

Key Tactical Adjustments

A catalyst for advancing was the dramatic improvement in their special teams. The power play, which had been inconsistent, exploded with crucial goals in the latter games of the series. They were an absolute threat in games 5 and 6 against the Stars. Equally impressive was their penalty kill unit, which neutralized 46 out of 49 penalties throughout the postseason, including a perfect record in the WCF. These tactical adjustments under Knoblauch’s leadership has won fans over. 

Looking Ahead to the Finals

Throughout this journey, Connor McDavid’s rise to his first Stanley Cup Final encapsulates not just a personal triumph but also heralds a pivotal era for the Edmonton Oilers. The collective effort from key players, ingenious coaching strategies, and the relentless spirit of the team make great story lines. As the Oilers prepare heading into Game 1, everyone knows all eyes are on McDavid. 


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