It all comes down to this. After two intense rounds of playoff hockey it’s down to the final four teams. The penultimate round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs are set to begin this week with the conference finals. It’s time to predict who will be representing the Eastern and Western Conference in the 2023 Stanley Cup Finals.
(1) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (WC2) Florida Panthers
Despite having their depth tested, the Hurricanes are heading to the conference finals firing on all cylinders. They quickly dispatched of the Devils in five games in rather convincing fashion. Three of the Hurricanes’ four wins were by a differential of four-plus goals. Additionally they held the Devils to just two goals or less in all but one game in the series.
Awaiting them is the Cinderella story of this year’s playoff pool with the Panthers. This year’s Panthers team is everything fans thought last year’s team was going to be. They’re getting offensive contributions from all around their roster and high quality goaltending from Sergei Bobrovsky. Having already knocked out two powerhouse teams in the Eastern Conference, the sky’s the limit for the Panthers.
That being said, the Hurricanes could prove to be one of their toughest tests. They have experience and could frustrate the Panthers attack with their style of play. If the Panthers continue to get productive performances from Bobrovsky they can push the Hurricanes to their limit. But ultimately the Hurricanes are just too well rounded of a team to bet against in this series.
Prediction: Hurricanes in 7
(1) Vegas Golden Knights vs. (2) Dallas Stars
The depth of the Golden Knights really shined again in their second round series. They worked to outscore one of the league’s top offensive teams while also winning two on the road. And they did so while starting their backup netminder Adin Hill after Laurent Brossoit suffered an injury halfway through the series. A deep roster with an experienced coach at the helm has and will continue to make the Golden Knights a difficult out this postseason.
The Stars enter the conference finals after a back-and-forth seven game series against the Kraken. Joe Pavelski and Roope Hintz have been by far the best goal scorers for a team full of quality offensive creators. They also have the best power play and PK units amongst the remaining teams. Plus, although inconsistent, Jake Oettinger is still a great presence in net for the Stars as was on display in his game seven performance.
A battle of two deep and well coached teams has the makings of a tremendous hockey series. With that, this series seems to favor the Stars as the victors. They’re a team that can stymie the high scoring Golden Knights unlike their previous two opponents. Add to that their dynamic offense against a newer goaltender in Hill and the Stars have what it takes to win this series.
Prediction: Stars in 6
Featured image courtesy of NHL.com
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