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2024 Stanley Cup Final

Rodrigues Enjoying Each Moment of Cup Run with the Panthers

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Panthers cup
Evan Rodrigues celebrates after scoring in the second period to give the Florida Panthers a 2-0 lead against the Edmonton Oilers in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night in Sunrise. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Evan Rodrigues had played for three teams in eight seasons before landing with the Florida Panthers. For the first time in his career, he is playing for the Stanley Cup.

After getting a taste of the playoffs with Pittsburgh and Colorado, the 33-year-old could not wait to go on a deep run with the Panthers. 

Rodrigues played in his first Stanley Cup Final game on Saturday night and had a night he and the Panthers will certainly remember.

In the second period of Florida’s 3-0 win in Game 1 against the Edmonton Oilers, Sam Bennett fed Rodrigues in the slot, and he beat goalie Stuart Skinner on the glove side to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead. 

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It was his fourth goal of these playoffs.

Whatever nervousness he might have had to start was gone.

“It took a couple of shifts and then I settled in,” Rodrigues said. “I thought we got better as the game went on. After a week off I thought our legs got under us as the game went on and, yeah, really thought we had a really good third.”

Rodrigues said he couldn’t wait for the Cup Final to begin with the Panthers.

When asked whether there was nervousness or just plain anticipation, he said, “I think ‘Let’s get going.’ This is what you dream of since you were a little kid, when you first put on skates. We had a little bit of a break since the last series, so I think we’re at the point of built-up anticipation. 

“My feeling is I would like for the puck to drop in an hour.”

In the offseason, Bill Zito saw a lot in Rodrigues and signed him to a four-year, $12 million deal, the most lucrative contract of his career.

Rodrigues offered speed and versatility.

He has not disappointed. 

As a middle-six type forward, coach Paul Maurice could deploy him in several spots when he had to juggle lines or compensate for injuries.

He currently plays with Matthew Tkachuk and Sam Bennett on the second line.

They’ve been enjoying a successful run.

“Bennie and Chuckie are a lot of fun to play with, especially come playoff time,” Rodrigues said.

“Two guys who play hard, play physical and play with a lot of speed. When Bennie gets going up the middle, it’s fun to connect with and get rush chances with. We’ve done a good job so far.

“I think Bennie’s gotten better and better since the playoffs have gone on. He’s really hitting his stride right now. I would like to see that continue in the final series.”

Rodrigues was not here for the Panthers dream run to the Cup Final. 

This year, the expectations were higher, and execution was more systematic than the sprint to the finish.

As many of his teammates have expressed, Rodrigues welcomes the camaraderie, pressure, and opportunity that have been so much a part of the Panthers’ culture this season.

“We love each other like brothers but we also make fun of each other like brothers do,” he said. “We’re the hardest on each other but we’re also our biggest supporters. 

“It’s really rewarding getting this far and hopefully finishing the job.”

The Stanley Cup Final is hockey’s biggest event, and, this game’s biggest stage.

The Panthers look like they’re enjoying every  moment.

For More FHN Coverage of the Florida Panthers:

2024 STANLEY CUP FINAL
EDMONTON OILERS VS. FLORIDA PANTHERS 
GAME 2
  • When: Monday, 8 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
  • National TV: ABC
  • Streaming: ESPN+/Hulu
  • Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Series Schedule, All Games 8 p.m. on ABC — Game 1: @Florida 3, Edmonton 0; Game 2: Edmonton at Florida, Monday; Game 3: Florida at Edmonton, Thursday; Game 4:Florida at Edmonton, Saturday June 15; Game 5*: Edmonton at Florida, Tuesday June 18; Game 6*: Florida at Edmonton, Friday June 21; Game 7*: Edmonton at Florida, Monday June 24. (*) – If Necessary
  • How They Got Here — Florida: d. Tampa Bay 4-1, Boston 4-2, New York Rangers 4-2; Edmonton: d. Los Angeles 4-1, Vancouver 4-3, Dallas 4-2.
  • This Season (Florida Won 2-0) — At Florida: Panthers 5, Oilers 3 (Nov. 20). At Edmonton: Panthers 5, Oilers 2 (Dec. 17).
  • Last Season: Edmonton Won 2-0
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Oilers lead 23-16-0, 3 ties
  • Postseason History: First Meeting

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