NHL Finals previews

NHL Finals Preview and How to Watch

03 June, 2023

The Vegas Golden Knights and Florida Panthers square off in the NHL’s season finale on Saturday, kicking off the 2023 Stanley Cup Final.

Many believe that Vegas will host the Stanley Cup for the first time if the Knights win the championship. The Panthers, on the other hand, are content to play the underdog and have had a fantastic postseason run thus far.

Ice hockey fans are aware that anything is possible when it comes to shocks, especially with Florida trying to evoke memories of the “Miracle on Ice.”

Matthew Tkachuk and Carter Verhaeghe, for example, will be attempting to channel Mike Eruzione from Team USA’s famous victory over the Soviet Union.

How to see

The top-seven games The Stanley Cup Final begins on Saturday, June 3, with Game 1 beginning at 8 p.m. ET.

The Stanley Cup Final games from this year will all be broadcast live in the US on TNT.

The Favorites

The Western conference’s top scoring team was the Vegas Golden Knights. With 111 points scored, the Golden Knights finished the season with a 51-22 record and nine OT losses.

In the first round of the playoffs, the Winnipeg Jets played the Golden Knights. Vegas turned things around after dropping the opening game, winning four straight to claim the series 4-1.

Next, Vegas took on the Edmonton Oilers, winning the series 4-2 to go to the Western Conference Final against the Dallas Stars.

Before the Stars won back-to-back games to keep the series close, the Golden Knights sprinted to a 3-0 series lead. Vegas eventually won the series 6-0 to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith, two Vegas athletes who had previously played for Florida, were released after being deemed unwanted. Since then, Marchessault has overtaken Smith as the all-time leader in goals, assists, points, and games played in Vegas, while Smith is second in those categories.

“They’re reminding me a lot of the team we had the first year: against all odds,” Marchessault said of the Panthers after reaching the Stanley Cup Final.

“They worked hard to be there. It’s all in their honor. They have a great team all around the lineup and a good goaltender. Yeah, definitely excited to play them, and it’s going to be a good series.”

The  Underdogs

While it was predicted that the Golden Knights would advance after the regular season, the Florida Panthers defied the odds throughout the postseason to make their first final in almost 30 years.

The Eastern Conference’s top team met the Panthers in the first round of the playoffs since they earned the second wildcard position and qualified for the postseason that way.

The Boston Bruins broke the records for most victories (65) and points (135) in a single NHL season, and a straightforward series victory was predicted for the record-setters.

When the Bruins quickly took a 3-1 lead, it appeared like the series was playing out as expected, with the favorites winning. However, Paul Maurice’s club had different plans and shocked the hockey world by winning three straight games.

Game 7 between the Panthers and the Bruins was a nail-biter that went into overtime. Verhaeghe scored the game-winning goal in overtime to move the underdogs onto the second round and kill the Bruins’ hopes of winning the Stanley Cup.

The final two series for Florida were resolved much more easily. The Panthers swept the Carolina Hurricanes 4-0 after defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1.

Tkachuk, a star for the Panthers, has scored 21 points in the postseason—nine goals and 12 assists—but more importantly, the 25-year-old has stepped up when his team has needed him most.

In the playoffs, he has scored three overtime goals, including the game-winning goal on the power play with 4.9 seconds left in the first period of Game 4 against Carolina.

With their journey to the final two, the Panthers club, according to Tkachuk, is savoring the sense of proving critics wrong.

It had “kind of that similar feel of being the underdog and trying to prove people wrong again,” Tkachuk added.

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