Conference Finals Predictions – 2023 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs

Conference Finals Predictions – 2023 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs

After going four-for-eight with my first-round predictions, I went a pathetic one-for-four in the second round. So, folks, don’t base your Conference Finals bets on my prognostications. Remember, this is all just for fun.

Anyway, let’s see if I can have better luck this time around. Feel free to point and laugh in the comments section. Bet responsibly, kids. A fool and his money and all that…


Carolina Hurricanes vs Florida Panthers

The Hurricanes got here by eliminating the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils while the Panthers upset the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Despite the absence of sidelined forwards Andrei Svechnikov, Max Pacioretty and Teuvo Teravainen, the Hurricanes got production from depth forwards Jordan Martinook, Jesper Fast and Jesperi Kotkaniemi. Sebastian Aho remains the linchpin of their offense.

Defense and goaltending are the Hurricanes’ strengths. Led by Jaccob Slavin and Brent Burns, their blueline has contributed offensively while shutting down opposing scorers. Their 90.0 penalty-killing percentage is the postseason’s best. Frederik Andersen was superb between the pipes against the Devils. The Canes’ 2.55 goals-against per game is the second-lowest. 

The Panthers’ physical style and gritty offense were critical factors in getting them to this point. Matthew Tkachuk has risen to the occasion as a playoff performer, Brandon Montour provides invaluable production from the blueline while forwards Aleksander Barkov, Carter Verhaeghe, Sam Bennett, Sam Reinhart and Anthony Duclair have proven difficult to contain.

Sergei Bobrovsky has been solid in the Panthers’ net since the midpoint of their first-round series against Boston. Their overall defensive game did a fine job neutralizing the Bruins and Leafs best scorers.

It’s going to be an interesting matchup between Carolina’s strong defense and Florida’s aggressive forecheck. Considering how games become tighter-checking affairs as the playoffs roll along, that could favor the Hurricanes. PREDICTION: Hurricanes in 6.


Dallas Stars vs Vegas Golden Knights

The Stars reached this point by beating the Minnesota Wild and the Seattle Kraken. The Vegas Golden Knights bested the Winnipeg Jets and Edmonton Oilers.

This is the fourth time in six years Vegas has reached the Western Conference Finals. It’s also the second time since 2020 that they will face the Stars, who bested them the last time around.

Vegas’ 3.73 goals-per-game average is the second-highest in this postseason. Leading scorer Jack Eichel is thriving in his first-ever NHL playoffs. Mark Stone, Jonathan Marchessault and Chandler Stephenson have also flourished in these playoffs.

The Golden Knights possess a solid defense anchored by Alex Pietrangelo. Their goaltending has been decimated by injuries yet Adin Hill replaced the sidelined Laurent Brossoit midway through the Oilers series and backstopped them to victory.

Led by Roope Hintz and Joe Pavelski, the Stars have plenty of scoring punch of their own. Regular-season scoring leader Jason Robertson only has two goals but collected 10 assists thus far. Veterans Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and trade-deadline pickup Max Domi have also been key contributors.

Dallas’ starting goaltender Jake Oettinger has had a handful of difficult games but has also shown that he can bounce back well. Led by Miro Heiskanen, the Stars have given up the third-fewest shots (29.4) and possess the third-best penalty kill.

Both clubs have plenty of talent and roster depth so this series could go the distance. Defense should make the difference here. If Oettinger remains sharp, this should go Dallas’ way. PREDICTION: STARS IN SEVEN.

Second Round Predictions – 2023 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs

Second Round Predictions – 2023 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs

The first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs is history.

We saw the defending champion Colorado Avalanche upset by the underdog Seattle Kraken.

The Florida Panthers overcame a 3-1 series deficit to knock off the record-setting Presidents’ Trophy-winning Boston Bruins.

For the first time in 19 years, the Toronto Maple Leafs won a playoff series by eliminating the Tampa Bay Lightning.

I went four-for-eight with my opening-round predictions. Let’s see how I fare with my second-round picks.


The intro explained how these two got here. With 111 points, the Leafs finished 19 points ahead of the Panthers in the Atlantic Division, who overcame a shaky first half to qualify for the playoffs on the last week of the season. Both clubs aren’t that far apart in terms of offense and goaltending but the Leafs have better penalty-killing and faceoff win stats.

Led by their core of Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews, John Tavares, William Nylander and Morgan Rielly, the Leafs pack a potent scoring punch. They’ve received reliable goaltending from Ilya Samsonov while two-way center Ryan O’Reilly has provided a steadying influence.

The Panthers, however, aren’t to be taken lightly. Matthew Tkachuk, Aleksander Barkov, Carter Verhaeghe, Sam Reinhart and Brandon Montour can light the lamp while the tandem of Sergei Bobrovsky and Alex Lyon backstopped them past the Bruins.



The Oilers advanced by eliminating the Los Angeles Kings from the first round for the second straight year. Meanwhile, the Golden Knights made short work of the Winnipeg Jets.

Getting two-way winger and team captain Mark Stone back in the lineup for the postseason provided a big boost for the Golden Knights in the first round. Jack Eichel has played well thus far in his first NHL postseason as Vegas sits fourth among playoff scorers.

The Oilers remain the offensive juggernaut they were in the regular season, leading all playoff clubs in scoring and power-play percentage. Superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl remain in top form and could feast on a Golden Knights penalty kill that was 15th among the 16 first-round clubs.



This battle of the top two teams in the Metropolitan Division came about as the Hurricanes despatched the New York Islanders in six games while the Devils overcame a 2-0 series deficit to eliminate the New York Rangers in seven games.

The Hurricanes got this far on the strength of their goaltending depth and their solid defensive game, including a playoff-best penalty-killing percentage. They’ve got plenty of postseason experience led by stars such as Sebastian Aho and Brent Burns.

While the Devils are near the bottom in postseason scoring, they’re loaded with swift-skating young talent led by Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier. They also got a shot of confidence from the solid play of rookie goalie Akira Schmid. They could be poised to pull off an upset here.



The Stars defeated the Minnesota Wild in the opening round in six games while the Kraken as noted in the intro upset the Avalanche in seven games.

Dallas still has veteran leaders in Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Joe Pavelski but younger stars like Roope Hintz, Jason Robertson, Miro Heiskanen and goalie Jake Oettinger played key roles in eliminating the Wild. They’ve got the lowest goals-against per game in this postseason thus far.

The Kraken’s upset of the Avalanche shows they’re a club not to be taken lightly. They got clutch goaltending from Philipp Grubauer, a strong forecheck and penalty kill, plus they can spread their scoring throughout their lineup. However, it may not be enough to defeat the Stars.