NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions: Conference Final Edition
The Dallas Stars find themselves in the Western Conference Final, facing off against a familiar foe: the Vegas Golden Knights, whom they eliminated handily 4-1 in the Conference Final round of the 2020 bubble playoffs.
But how will they fare this year? Will the Florida Panthers continue their improbable Cinderella run to the Cup as a Wild Card out east? Will it be an all-Wild Card Chaos Squad Cup Final? Here's what our staff thinks. Tell us who you agree with or who is incredibly wrong in their predictions in the comments.
Carolina Hurricanes (M1) vs Florida Panthers (WC2)
Taylor B: There’s something about the fact that three of these final four teams are members of the Wild Card Chaos squad from seasons ago. With that in mind, I hope Florida keeps the chaos going. Non-traditional markets for the absolute fucking win. Panthers in 6.
Wes: It’s the battle of a team I kept thinking would run out of scoring (Carolina) against the team with goaltending that could not possibly hold up (Florida). There are rumblings Carolina might get Teuvo Teravainen back, which would be a huge boost. Florida, meanwhile, seems healthy. Do you take Matt Tkachuk and Sasha Barkov, or Sebastien Aho and Jacob Slavin? Who runs out of magic first: Sergei Bobrovski or Freddie Anderson? My head tells me this series should be a close one, but my gut tells me I’m underrating the Canes. Hurricanes in 5.
KT: Let’s face it, Stars vs. Panthers would be Thunderdome all night, every night, and it’s hard not to root for that – even when evidence mitigates against it. I’m going out on a limb here, but I bet synchronicity will bat last. Panthers in 6.
Tyler: At this point, it’s hard to count out the Panthers for anything, who should have honestly been given more credit to begin with despite squeezing into the playoffs. But Carolina has also been dominant this postseason, and I’m feeling the all-Finnish Final. Hurricanes in 7.
Mark: Carolina is a nightmare to any team playing them at this point. Great structure on defense with enough punch and high-end talent on offense to blow teams out. Net is unspectacular, but they don't really need it. Panthers slipper falls off - hard. Hurricanes in 5.
Consensus pick: Hurricanes.
Vegas Golden Knights (P1) vs Dallas Stars (C2)
Taylor B: Back in February, I attended the Stars game in Vegas and heard two men behind me say “We’re watching a preview of the Western Conference Final.” I think about those guys often. On paper, it feels like these two teams are as level as any opponent Dallas could face in the postseason, but I do think that they might hold the edge in special teams. The trick will be how often they can draw Vegas offside to get those opportunities to have that be the difference maker in the series. I think it’s going to be a strong series. Stars in 6.
Wes: Real talk? Dallas has made it to the Western Conference with uneven goaltending, 2 power play goals from Jason Robertson, and several troubling no-shows. Eichel and Stone, Pietrangelo and Theodore, Marchessault and Smith are not going to take their skates off Dallas’ throat. That said, Roope Hintz is a legitimate nightmare, Miro does everything at an elite level, Joe Pavelski keeps scoring, and Dallas is four wins from the Cup Final with all of the problems I mentioned earlier. Domi, Seguin, Benn, Harley, Johnston; it feels like the list of contributors keeps growing. It will have to, because I expect Vegas will give the Stars a heckuva series. Both teams are good enough to win an unexpectedly short serie, but I think it’s more likely we’re looking at a heavyweight fight. Stars in 7.
KT: And here it is…the war we always wanted. How’s that gonna work out for us? The Stars have already shown they can beat you any way you want. The wild card is if (when) Robertson breaks the seal. I can’t help thinking that will happen during this series. Stars in 6.
Tyler: To way over-simplify things, Vegas is kind of a blend between Minnesota and Seattle: they have the top tier talent to light you up, but they also have the depth to wear you down. The Stars have the clear edge in goal, however… if we get Round One Oettinger back. I say we do. Stars in 6.
Mark: Finally back to a team that plays "regular" hockey. Vegas will slash, cup check and generally try to get away with everything they can, but they don't roll a 4 line offensive swarm or try to physically obliterate you. Talent (and goaltending) wins out. Stars in 5.
Consensus pick: Stars.