NHL Playoffs: Previewing the 2023 Stanley Cup Finals

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Michael Savio
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  • Vegas owns the best goal differential in the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs
  • These teams split their two-game regular season series
  • The Panthers have not played since May 24

While playoff seedings of Vegas and Florida suggest this will be a lopsided matchup, they do not tell the whole story. This is why we've gone through the matchup to cover how both reached this year's Stanley Cup Final, how they could win it, and our players to watch in the series.

If you are looking for help with your Stanley Cup betting, then you've come to the right place!

The Florida Panthers (+110 at FanDuel Sportsbook)

The Panthers had the best season in their history in 2022, but a disappointing playoff loss caused them to shake things up. The most significant change was their trade for Matthew Tkachuk, who they gave up two stars to acquire. That led to a disappointing 2023 regular season where they beat out the Sabres by just one point to lock in the final Wild Card spot.

While their regular season was far from spectacular, they did win six of their final eight games. That momentum carried into the first round, where they beat the Boston Bruins, who had the best regular season in the history of the NHL. They would go on to easily beat the fourth-seeded Maple Leafs and sweep the second-seeded Hurricanes.

The Panthers are truly on one of the most impressive playoff runs in history.

How Florida Could Win the Stanley Cup  

The most significant advantage the Panthers currently have is their momentum. They have won 10 of their previous 11 playoff games, including a sweep of a great Carolina team. The key will be getting their offense going early on in this series. We saw them falter against an elite Carolina defense, but the Canes lack of offense ultimately cost them the series. Vegas has been better at both ends than either Carolina or Florida, so it will be necessary for Matthew Tkachuk, Carter Verhaeghe, and the rest of this Florida forward group to be at their best.

Player to Watch 

Sergei Bobrovsky is the biggest reason for Florida's success during this postseason run. He's been exceptional since he took back the starting goalie role in game four against Boston, and he'll need that to continue against an impressive Vegas offensive attack. The Panthers' offense will have its hands full, so it will be crucial for Bobrovsky to keep Vegas contained.

The Vegas Golden Knights (-130 at FanDuel Sportsbook)

The Vegas Knights are one of the best stories in hockey over the last few seasons. Since the team's first season in 2017, they have won three division titles and two conference Championships. They have been in contention each season, making them one of the most successful expansion teams in sports.

The Knights finished with the best record in the Western Conference, earning them the top seed. They efficiently handled the Jets but needed six games to get past the Oilers and Stars. While their path to the Stanley Cup Final isn't as impressive as Florida, they do have the best goal differential in the postseason (+1.0). Their balance has been their key to success all year, giving them a great shot at their first-ever Stanley Cup.

How Vegas Could Win the Stanley Cup

Defense wins championships, and no one has played better than Vegas in the playoffs. They are allowing just 2.65 goals per game and shut out the Stars twice in the Western Conference Finals. The Panthers have a ton of weapons but showed cracks against a great Carolina blue line. If Vegas and goalie Aidan Hill can continue their elite play, this should be a short series.

Player to Watch

Center William Karlsson is having an incredible postseason, as he has the second-most goals in the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Though he scored just 14 goals during the season, the veteran already has 10 games during the playoffs. The Knights have a lot of offensive firepower in Jack Eichel and Jonathan Marchessault, so adding a red-hot Karlsson could make the Knights too good to beat. 

Michael is an avid sports fan and a veteran bettor from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He learned the trade from his grandfather in Las Vegas as a kid. As an adult, Michael started picking games for a small sports betting site and has built it into a career. His experience allows him to provide tips and information to help other bettors improve their game. Michael cheers for all Wisconsin pro teams, the Arizona State Sun Devils (his alma mater), and the Ottawa Senators. He specializes in baseball betting but has extensive experience in football, basketball, and hockey. When he isn’t pouring over stats, he’s spending time with his two young children or hiking and enjoying the outdoors.