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NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview: Eastern Conference Finals

Hunter Skoczylas breaks down and offers betting insight on the Eastern Conference Finals.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Florida Panthers - Game Four Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

With both Conference Finals matchups finalized, your Eastern Conference Finals features the Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers, two teams that each just won their previous series in five games. The Panthers have topped both the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs — arguably the two biggest powerhouses out of the Eastern Conference — to get to this point. The Hurricanes have handled their opponents thus far, as well, beating the New York Islanders in six games and the New Jersey Devils in five games.

As we enter the third round, which team has what it takes to make it to the end and have a chance to hoist the Stanley Cup? Let’s dive right into how this series has looked based on betting odds and trends via DraftKings Sportsbook.

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DraftKings Sportsbook Eastern Conference Finals Preview

Carolina Hurricanes

The Hurricanes have prided themselves on strong defensive play balanced with a viable offensive attack thus far in the postseason. Carolina has allowed just 2.5 goals per game, the best average out of the remaining teams. Its impressive penalty kill percentage of 84.4% during the regular season has gotten even better in the postseason, sitting at 90.0%. The Hurricanes already ended the season allowing the least amount of goals and now that Frederik Andersen returned to the lineup, he’s posted a 5-0 record in the postseason. The strong play on both sides of the ice is evident but their postseason path has arguably been the easiest path of the remaining teams.

Florida Panthers

The Panthers’ path through two rounds has been as difficult as it gets after topping the best regular season team in NHL history in the Bruins and one of the most talented squads in the Maple Leafs. Now, the Presidents’ Trophy Curse and Toronto’s playoff history certainly helped Florida’s cause but its impressive offensive play cannot go unnoticed. The Panthers have averaged 3.3 goals per game against some strong defensive teams and have seen their power play percentage rise over five percent in the postseason so far. Florida’s penalty kill has struggled mightily, however, primarily because of its opponents’ strong offensive attacks. Although he’s had his struggles throughout the season, Sergei Bobrovsky has presented glimpses of his former elite goaltending and ranks first in goals saved above expected.

Hurricanes-Panthers Series Props

Based on betting odds on DraftKings Sportsbook, this series features two electric offenses both averaging at least 3.3 goals per game. Florida has topped strong teams with elite defenses already but must do it again against Carolina if its offensive attack continues to produce 3.7 goals per game. With current over/under totals for the series goal total set at 33.5 currently, taking the over at -130 odds would likely be a smart and safe play.

Although the odds are favoring Carolina to win the Stanley Cup at +220 odds, Florida has all the tools to continue its postseason success all the way into the finals. Underdogs have posted a 9-3 record in Game 1 so far, making Florida an enticing option when it comes to single-game bets on the Moneyline or Puck Line. The Hurricanes are strong defensively and won’t go down easy but the Panthers are used to that level of play after topping the Bruins and Maple Leafs already.

Carolina’s top-six has been impressive, generating 40 goals so far this postseason but it isn’t as talented and deep as Florida’s at this point. Brandon Montour has generated six goals and three assists thus far but won’t be able to hold down the fort himself in the defensive game so it's clear the Hurricanes will consistently have the edge in that department. Matthew Tkachuk, Carter Verhaeghe and Aleksander Barkov lead the offensive attack and have been on fire through 12 postseason games — all posting at least nine points each. It’d be tempting to play it safe and lean toward Sebastian Aho on the favored Hurricanes to finish with the most goals this series but you must consider Florida’s attack with great odds on Verhaeghe (+650) and even Sam Reinhart (+1700).

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All odds are provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and are subject to change.

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is huntersk) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.