Connor McDavid's first Stanley Cup Finals game echoes Wayne Gretzky's debut against the NY Islanders

2024 Stanley Cup Final - Game One
2024 Stanley Cup Final - Game One / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

After nearly a week without hockey, the Stanley Cup Finals between the Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers kicked off last night, with the home Panthers securing a 3-0 victory.

While the scoreboard seemed lopsided in Florida's favor, the game was anything but. Much of the game was played in the Panthers' end with the Oilers outshooting their opponents 32-18 and outchancing Florida 13-6 in high-danger areas according to Natural Stat Trick.

Much of the lead-up to last night's game was surrounding the Finals debut of Connor McDavid. The Hart Trophy nominee played 25:19, recording six shots and finishing as a -2. McDavid appeared to be on the ice every other shift, but he and the Oilers couldn't beat goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky despite having the lion's share of opportunities.

Like McDavid, in 1983 the storyline was Wayne Gretzky making his Finals debut against the three-time defending champion NY Islanders.

Game 1 in that series for Gretzky had strikingly similar results to McDavid last night. The Great One and the Oilers were also shutout 2-0 while dominating play, and Gretzky also finished with six shots on goal and a -2 rating.

Islanders goaltender Billy Smith was phenomenal on the night, finishing with a 35-save shutout.

The Islanders of course went on to win the series, sweeping the Oilers for their fourth consecutive Stanley Cup victory.

After the Finals clinching Game 4, the Oilers had to pass by the Islanders' locker room on their way to the bus at Nassau Coliseum. The team was dreading the walk having to witness the Islanders and witnessing their celebrations. After the Oilers defeated the Islanders in the 1984 Stanley Cup Finals, they recognized that moment as what changed their mindset to become champions. The Islanders' celebrations were more subdued than expected, as the players and staff were more busy applying ice packs to their battered and bruised bodies than celebrating. This changed the Oilers' attitude heading into the future, realizing the sacrifices your body needs to make to become champions.