The 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs are into the conference finals and we have our Final Four set. The Vegas Golden Knights will host the Dallas Stars in the West while the Carolina Hurricanes take on the Florida Panthers in the East. Here we’ll go over some picks and predictions for each series and some bets that stand out.
2023 NHL playoff predictions: Conference Finals
The Hurricanes-Panthers series figures to be fast and tough. Florida has gone on a bit of a cinderella run here but really it shouldn’t surprise many. The Panthers brought back mostly the same team from a year ago when they won the Presidents’ Trophy. Carolina has the advantage on special teams, in net with Frederik Andersen and with home-ice advantage. The Hurricanes are the favorite to win the Stanley Cup at +225 on DraftKings Sportsbook. So is that a good bet? Not at the moment. This series should be tight and the Panthers can definitely win. Florida is +330 to win the Cup, which isn’t even that far off Carolina.
The Hurricanes have a bit more experience and drive, plus the better coach in Rod Brind’Amour. Carolina can throw strong defensive play at Matthew Tkachuk and the top line with Aleksander Barkov. Carolina’s speed and depth on defense should help in getting past Florida. Still, this series should be close. The Panthers are +115 on the series line. It feels like a series where you’d want to see how Game 1 goes before betting.
The Stars and Golden Knights are familiar enough foes. Dallas defeated Vegas in five game sin the 2020 Conference Finals during the pandemic season. These two teams are somewhat different from that series but not far off. Both possess plenty of depth throughout the roster and veteran leadership.
To me, this feels like the Stars have an advantage and I like them the best out of the four remaining teams. Dallas has a strong power play that is scoring at around a 30% clip this postseason, best among the remaining teams. The Stars also have a strong penalty kill and arguably the best goaltender left. Not only do you have players like Roope Hintz and Jason Robertson, but veterans like Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Joe Pavelski, all seeking their first Stanley Cup victory. This may be the last shot for some players. If Robertson can get going, Dallas is going to be dangerous. It’s only a matter of time.
For Vegas, you have depth at forward but Adin Hill appears to be the last goaltender left standing. It’s unclear if Laurent Brossoit (lower-body) or Logan Thompson (week-to-week) could return at some point this postseason. If not, Hill and veteran Jonathan Quick will have to do. That gives the Stars (you would think) a pretty big advantage in net with Jake Oettinger.
What the Kraken did well was overwhelm the Stars and roll lines with a relentless forecheck. Can Vegas duplicate that type of play? And if the Golden Knights can, will it even be enough if the Stars power play keeps this up and the penalty kill stays strong. Dallas can play with any team because of size and the Stars have great offensive chemistry. Last round vs. the Oilers, the Golden Knights would have lapses and next thing you knew they’d be down 2-0 or 3-0 and unable to come back.
I think the Stars will take this series and I like betting them at +120 on the series line and +310 to win the Cup. They have the formula to win the Cup and I think we see Benn, Seguin and Pavelski take it to another level. Seguin was flying in Game 7 and could have easily scored a few times. The deeper the Stars get, the tougher they’ll become.