Oilers have little experience to rely on for Stanley Cup Final

On top of the lack of experience, the few Oilers players who have previously played in the Stanley Cup Final have mostly ended up on the losing side.
San Jose Sharks v Edmonton Oilers
San Jose Sharks v Edmonton Oilers / Leila Devlin/GettyImages

How much does experience mean when it comes to the Stanley Cup Final? In some respects we are about to find out as the Edmonton Oilers prepare to face the Florida Panthers, beginning with game one on Saturday night at Amerant Bank Arena.

On the one hand the Panthers were in the Stanley Cup Final just last season in the 4-1 series loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, with many of the same cast of characters who will face the Oilers this time around. As for their opponents though, experience of playing in hockey's ultimate series is seriously lacking.

Consider that only five players on the current Oilers roster, have previously played in the Stanley Cup Final. Making it even worse, only one of them has actually experienced winning it all.

Corey Perry stands alone

The five players in question are Corey Perry, Adam Henrique, Mattias Ekholm, Brett Kulak and Mattias Janmark. The only won to win the Stanley Cup is Perry, who helped the Anaheim Ducks to victory versus the Ottawa Senators in 2006-07.

In fact Perry stands out significantly in another way as well. As per NHL Network, he is about to become the first player in league history to appear in the Stanley Cup Final with five different teams.

Aside from the Ducks and of course the Oilers, the four-time NHL All-Star has also played for the Holy Grail with the Dallas Stars, Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning. In fact he's been a bit of good luck charm so far this decade, only missing out on appearing in the Stanley Cup Final in 2023.

In respect of being a good luck charm though, this has only gone so far up to this point, with Perry having a record of 1-3 in Stanley Cup Finals. Throw in the fact that Henrique, Ekholm, Kulak and Janmark have each lost the only time they appeared in the Final, and this is an Oilers team which will be supremely motivated to win it all. (Kulak's appearance actually came alongside Perry, for the Canadiens in 2021.)

Big players come up big when it matters most

As for the overall lack of experience on the roster when it comes to the Stanley Cup Final, this is actually something that arguably won't matter that much. It's really more about big moments revealing character, rather than creating it.

Along these lines, do you really believe that the likes of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are really going to freeze on the big stage, given the amount of talent at their disposal? Let's not forget that respectively, they have averaged the third and fourth-most points per game in NHL history. (Behind only Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.)

We'll concede that the Panthers playing in the Stanely Cup Final last season has to count for something. However, we believe that experience will matter most when it comes to the buildup to game one, when the potential for nerves among the inexperienced Oilers will be at their highest.

In addition, beginning the series on the road in a hostile environment will add to the anxiousness ahead of time. However, once the action gets underway, the players will be focused on the task at hand rather than worrying about what stage they are playing on, or how loud the fans will be.

Helping combat further against any nervousness or anxiety, will be the Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch. He is renowned for his calm demeanour even in moments of adversity, an invaluable personality trait which his players have collectively taken on since he took over from the unfortunate Jay Woodcroft.

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Overall, the time for talking is nearly over, with the fans, media and players alike all anticipating what will be an extremely absorbing Stanley Cup Final. For the Oilers specifically, experienced or not, we're all about to find out what they are made of, on the biggest stage the NHL has to offer.

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