Old And New: Former Blue Jackets Win Cup With Panthers; Waddell Zeroing In On Next Coach?

By Will Chase on June 26, 2024 at 10:15 am
Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) hoists the Stanley Cup after defeating the Edmonton Oilers in game seven of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final at Amerant Bank Arena.
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

A little over a week ago, he might have been Conn Smythe Bob.

Sergei Bobrovsky will have to settle for Stanely Cup Champion.

Bobrovsky and the Florida Panthers saved their very best for last as they beat the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 in Game 7 on Monday night in Sunrise, Florida.

General manager Bill Zito, a one-time assistant with the Columbus Blue Jackets, and forward Kevin Stenlund, another former Jacket, also won their first championship.

Bobrovsky had the playoffs of a lifetime.

Going 16-8 with a 2.23 goals against average and a .906 save percentage, Bobrovsky held opponents to two goals or fewer in 16 games throughout the Cup run. In the Final, Bobrovsky shut out the Oilers 3-0 behind 32 saves in Game 1, while Florida cashed all three goals in on 18 shots.

He limited the Oilers to one goal in a 4-1 Game 2 win, then Bobrovsky and the Panthers held on to outlast Edmonton 4-3 in Game 3 for a commanding 3-0 series lead.

Then things got interesting.

Edmonton won Game 4, 8-1, Game 5, 5-3, and Game 6, 5-1, to tie the series at three games apiece.

Bobrovsky was already part of two of the greatest upsets in NHL history when the Blue Jackets swept the 62-win Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2019 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, and the Panthers shocked the Boston Bruins, who won a record-setting 65 regular-season games and posted an all-time high 135 points, in the first round in 2023.

After only allowing four goals through three games of the Stanley Cup Final, and all that stood in the way of a championship and Conn Smythe was one more win, he allowed 12 goals through Games 4-6.

Opponent Result Goals Allowed
Tampa Bay Lightning W 3-2 2
Tampa Bay Lightning W 3-2 OT 2
Tampa Bay Lightning W 5-3 3
Tampa Bay Lightning L 6-3 6
Tampa Bay Lightning W 6-1 1
Boston Bruins L 5-1 4
Boston Bruins W 6-1 1
Boston Bruins W 6-2 2
Boston Bruins W 3-2 2
Boston Bruins L 2-1 2
Boston Bruins W 2-1 1
New York Rangers W 3-0 0
New York Rangers L 2-1 OT 2
New York Rangers L 5-4 OT 5
New York Rangers W 3-2 OT 2
New York Rangers W 3-2 2
New York Rangers W 2-1 1
Edmonton Oilers W 3-0 0
Edmonton Oilers W 4-1 1
Edmonton Oilers W 4-3 3
Edmonton Oilers L 8-1 5
Edmonton Oilers L 5-3 4
Edmonton Oilers L 5-1 3
Edmonton Oilers W 2-1 1

In the regular season, Bobrovsky went 36-17-4, 2.37 GAA, and a .915 SV%. He currently stands at 396 career regular-season victories.

Looks like you can pencil in Bobrovsky for the Hall of Fame and a possible jersey retirement in Columbus one day?

Connor McDavid took home the Conn Smythe for playoff MVP as he led the playoffs with 42 points (eight goals, 34 assists), broke Wayne Gretzky's record for assists in a single playoff run, and became the first player with eight points — one goal, three assists in Game 4 and two goals, two assists in Game 5 — in two consecutive Stanley Cup Final games.

McDavid scored 132 points (32 goals, 100 assists) in the regular season, with the 100 assists being a career high. He and Nikita Kucherov each co-led the league with 100 helpers.

Zito became GM of the Panthers in 2020. Under his tenure, the Panthers won the Presidents' trophy in 2021-22, made it to the Stanley Cup Final in 2022-23, and captured the franchise's first Cup with Monday's win over the Oilers.

Stenlund played 81 games for the Panthers, the most games played in any of his six seasons in the league. He played parts of four seasons with the Blue Jackets (2018-22) and one season with the Winnipeg Jets (2022-23). This year with Florida, Stenlund posted career highs in points (15) and goals (11) to go with four assists. He registered one assist in the playoffs.

As John Buccigross posted on X (formerly Twitter) on Tuesday night, the Blue Jackets might be zeroing in on their next head coach.

The NHL Draft gets underway this week, Friday, June 28, and Saturday, June 29. As was mentioned Monday, Waddell said he would like to meet with people around the draft and keep the process moving forward. 

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