Only four teams remain, and the NHL’s Conference Final’s officially start tonight. Some of the BSP Hockey writers have submitted their predictions for how the third round of the NHL playoffs will go.
Hurricanes vs Panthers
Ladies and gentlemen, we have an all-southern affair for the Stanley Cup! Let’s enjoy this while the heads of traditional hockey fans explode, especially since we have this Eastern Conference Final. Florida is riding Sergei Bobrovsky through the Stanley Cup Playoffs and is enjoying an offensive explosion from Matthew Tkachuk and company. It isn’t just Tkachuk, though. It’s the Sam Reinhart experience featuring Brandon Montour and Carter Verhaeghe. Carolina is close to getting Teuvo Teravainen back from injury. But it won’t matter. Florida’s going to the Stanley Cup Final. Panthers in 6
I can totally see the Panthers winning this series and going on to win the cup, but I think the Hurricanes are the better team and have the grit + scoring that the Leafs lacked against the Panthers. Like I said, I can see the Panthers proving me wrong once again but my prediction is Hurricanes in 7
Coming off a dominant 4-1 series win over Toronto, it’s safe to say the Florida Panthers are no longer being viewed as the underdogs. With outstanding performances from Sergei Bobrovsky, Matthew Tkachuk, and Brandon Montour, the Panthers have found success through a relentless forecheck and their ability to pounce on the mistakes they force other teams to make. The Panthers proved a lot of people wrong during their amazing run so far and they seem poised to make their first Stanley Cup appearance since 1996. However, it’s hard to pick against a team like Carolina. The Hurricanes will be their most challenging opponent so far. It’ll be much harder for Florida to force turnovers against Carolina, a team known for their responsible defensive play. It could even be said Carolina won’t make the mistakes Boston and Toronto made leaving Florida with much less to work with. Carolina’s offense will also receive a massive addition with the return of Teuvo Teravainen. The biggest question around Carolina was how their offense would perform and they crushed those storylines with 6-1 and 5-1 wins over New Jersey. This will no doubt be a very physical series with both teams having big bodies willing to do whatever it takes to make the right play. While Florida has the edge in goaltending, their deadly forecheck may struggle against a defensively sound Carolina team which would give Carolina a big advantage in the series. Hurricanes in 6
I believe this will be a very fun series. Both teams play a very entertaining brand of hockey and have some of the biggest characters of the game. Carolina is probably the favorite in this upcoming series. Similar to the Stars, they have a perfect balance of youth and veteran influence. The biggest factor in the success of the Hurricanes is their defensive corps. They arguably have the best defensive group in the final four averaging just 2.55 goals-against in 11 games.
Meanwhile, we should learn our lesson to bet against the Florida Panthers. Florida has already upset both the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Who’s to say that the Cats won’t do it again? Sergei Bobrovsky have played a mammoth role in the success of the Florida Panthers. Additionally, Florida is built to play desperate, high-pressure hockey as they have been doing this for the last two months. They may not have the best team on paper, but they are opportunistic which is arguably just as important.
Overall, I believe Bobrovsky will continue to frustrate the opposition and the Panthers offense will continue to be opportunistic and they will fend off the offense of the Hurricanes. As I said before, the Panthers are built to play high pressure hockey and I think they will thrive. Panthers in 7
Golden Knights vs Stars
Vegas ended a top-heavy Oilers team that relied on the power play. In the process, they relied on Laurent Brossoit and Adin Hill to get the job done. The Stars will be a tougher team to take down based on their depth. Roope Hintz is a Conn Smythe contender and Joe Pavelski had a monster series against the Kraken. If Jake Oettinger can hold his own against a balanced Golden Knights attack, they should move on. I see a pathway for Vegas to win, but Pete DeBoer has the inside scoop on the Golden Knights. Stars in 7
Wow what a great matchup for the western conference finals. 2 teams that I personally didn’t expect to be there but I think it’ll be a great series. That being said I like the knights depth and scoring throughout the lineup but I’m not 100% sold on their goaltending. On the other side of the ice, the Stars just look incredible. One of the best teams in the west and are still a young team. I think this series really comes down to a goaltending battle, and in that case, Stars in 7
A battle between two teams carrying all the talent and depth needed for playoff success. Both teams have their stars and the ability to score clutch goals and then flipping the switch to tight-checking defense. If there’s one aspect that could make a difference, it would be the goaltending. For Dallas, Jake Oettinger has struggled at points but has bounced back every time, especially in the game 7 win over Seattle. Vegas will be relying on Adin Hill who’s played well so far but doesn’t have a lot of playoff experience. Vegas has great defensive depth so it may be difficult for Dallas to generate high-danger chances. This series is the most difficult one to predict so far. Vegas has arguably the best group of centers in the playoffs and a defense capable of shutting down Edmonton. Dallas is coming off a series win against Seattle, another very deep team that pestered them at every turn. If Dallas can win against a team like that, they may have what it takes to move on to the Stanley Cup Finals, but Vegas has the superstar talent to put them over the edge as well. Stars in 7
The Stars are coming off a series win of the Seattle Kraken who are very similar to the Panthers in terms of their ability to play high pressure hockey. Their victory is proof of how resilient these Dallas Stars are. Dallas is truly a scary team. They have won two series without overly brilliant goaltending from Jake Oettinger and with a cold Jason Robertson. Roope Hintz, Miro Heiskanen and Joe Pavelski are all having Conn Smythe caliber performances with Joe having an incredible 8 goals this series and Roope outscoring Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid.
The Knights are coming off a big win against the Oilers who were one of my two picks to make the cup final on the west. In addition they have a very top six who have scored 27 goals and 66 points combined. This can prove to be a very tough task for the Dallas defensive corps and Jake Oettinger who hasn’t been overly brilliant so far. If the Stars can’t shut down the likes of Jack Eichel and Jonathan Marchessault then they may have a tough series.
Overall, I do believe Dallas will win this series. I noticed that both Robertson and Oettinger are starting to show signs of heating up as Robertson had several scoring chances and Oettinger making several key saves. If Pavelski, Hintz, and Robertson are hot, and Miro Heiskanen keeps making his timely, paramount plays, I believe they will be unstoppable. Stars in 6