The 2024 Stanley Cup Final features a unique battle not only on the ice but also off the ice for the Edmonton Oilers and the Florida Panthers. These two teams, separated by 2,541 miles, have found creative ways to pass the time during their marathon flights between cities.

For the Oilers, it’s all about Mario Kart on the Nintendo Switch. Goalie Stuart Skinner leads the charge, using the game as a therapeutic escape after big wins and losses. With players like Connor McDavid as Luigi and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as Mario, the team has bonded over intense Mario Kart competitions at 30,000 feet in the air.

But the Panthers have their own way of passing the time – poker. As the team travels to Edmonton for Game 3, players like Matthew Tkachuk, Nick Cousins, and Aaron Ekblad gather around the poker table for some intense card games. While some players claim to be experts, others like Brandon Montour prefer to sit back and watch the action unfold.

The competitive spirit runs high in both Mario Kart and poker games, providing a way for players to bond and have a good time amidst the pressures of the Stanley Cup Final. Whether it’s firing turtle shells at each other in Mario Kart or bluffing their way to victory in a poker hand, these off-ice activities have become an integral part of the team’s journey to the championship.

As Skinner aptly puts it, these games offer a way for players to hang out with each other, have a laugh, and get to know each other on a deeper level. It’s not just about winning or losing but about building camaraderie and team spirit that can translate into success on the ice.

So, the next time you see NHL players engrossed in a game of Mario Kart or gathered around a poker table on a team flight, remember that it’s not just about passing the time – it’s about forging bonds, creating memories, and finding moments of joy in the midst of a high-stakes competition.