The Florida Panthers’ playoff run continued after sweeping the Carolina Hurricanes, the team with the best odds to win the Stanley Cup of any team that made the conference finals. I’d like to say I’ve believed in the Panthers throughout this incredible run, but I had very little faith in them even advancing past the first round. Call me a hater or a fake fan if you want, but I picked the Bruins to knock out the Panthers in five, the Leafsto take them out in seven and most recently I predicted the Hurricanes to eliminate them in six.
Luckily for Panthers’ fans everywhere, playoff seeding, betting odds and my incredibly wrong predictions mean nothing to this Florida team that has embraced the underdog role. The Panthers will now move on to face the Vegas Golden Knights who defeated the Dallas Stars in six games. The Panthers will be an underdog for the fourth straight playoff series as the Knights arethe overwhelming favorite to win the Stanley Cup according to Vegas.
The Knights have put together one of the deepest rosters in the NHL and have a number of guys that can put the puck in the back of the net at any moment. Vegas leads the NHL with the most players that have scored a goal during this postseason. The most dangerous of those players is Jack Eichel. Eichel is an extremely talented scorer and facilitator and leads the Knights in points during the postseason.
Vegas’ other major weapon is someone with who Florida Panther fans are very familiar. Jonathan Marchessault was a member of the Panthers before being selected by the Knights in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft. Since then, he’s grown into one of the most complete players in the NHL and lead the Knights in points during the regular season. The Panthers will have to contain the duo of Marchessault and Eichel if they want to take home their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
Florida has been riding the extremely hot play of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. ‘Bob’ has been incredible since the start of the postseason and was arguably the biggest factor in the Panthers’ sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Finals. The two-time Vezina Trophy winner has lived up to the hype and the Panthers will look to continue to ride his hot streak through the final.
In front of Bobrovsky, the Panthers stars have shown up and taken control of the scoring. Matthew Tkachuk and Aleksander Barkov combined to score six of the Cats’ ten goals in the four-game sweep of the Canes and will have to continue their high level of play for the Panthers to pull off another upset in the Stanley Cup Final.
I’ve picked against the Cats in every series during this playoff run and I’m not stopping here. Whether it’s because of my superstition or because the Knights have a deeper roster and more Stanley Cup experience, I’m going with Vegas to lift the cup. I expect this to be a highly competitive and exciting series between two teams both looking for their first title in franchise history. I hope I’m wrong and that the Stanley Cup is being paraded around the Sawgrass Mills Mall next month, but I’m sticking with my pick.
Knights in Seven
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