- Can the Panthers continue their streak of playoff upsets?
- Will the Hurricanes win to appear in their first Stanley Cup Final since 2006?
- Matthew Tkachuk and Martin Necas will be players to watch.
With the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs behind us, just two teams remain in the Eastern Conference — the Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers.
The first two rounds have seen both teams challenged, with the Hurricanes overcoming the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils, and the Panthers upsetting the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs. Now, the Hurricanes lead Stanley Cup odds at +200, with the Panthers trailing at +375.
So who will win the Eastern Conference Final to compete for the Stanley Cup, and which players should you be watching?
Panthers vs. Hurricanes: Series Prediction
I predict the Carolina Hurricanes will win the Eastern Conference Final in six games, and according to implied betting odds, the Hurricanes are predicted to win the series with 58.33% confidence.
In the 2022-23 regular season, the Hurricanes met the Panthers three times and won two games — one at home and one on the road. Still, if the Panthers continue to play how they did in the first two rounds to upset the Bruins and Maple Leafs, this will likely be a very tight matchup. I’m picking Carolina in six games, but I won’t be surprised if this series goes to the full seven.
Martin Necas locates Pesce’s deflected pass and buries his second of the night to put Carolina up 2-1!#LetsGoCanes pic.twitter.com/kCTz6bVNDI
— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights (@HockeyDaily365) May 10, 2023
Since the Hurricanes had the better regular-season record and, therefore, have home ice advantage, Games 1, 2, 5, and 7 will be played at PNC Arena in Raleigh, while Games 3, 4, and 6 will be played at FLA Live Arena in Sunrise.
Panthers vs. Hurricanes: Player Prop Predictions
Matthew Tkachuk Will Record Over 6 Points
Tkachuk recorded 40 goals, 69 assists, 109 points, and 322 shots during the regular season before backing it up with 11 points in the first round and five in the second. Now heading into the conference final to face the Hurricanes, I won’t be surprised if the 25-year-old left wing continues to turn up the heat.
It’s been a huge season for Tkachuk, and not just because it was his first with the Panthers. After winning All-Star Game MVP in February, his 2022-23 regular-season stats set new personal bests in assists, points, and shots, and he was recently named a finalist for the Hart Memorial Trophy.
WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!? 🤫
Matthew Tkachuk keeps the @FlaPanthers season alive thanks to his @SUBWAYCanada OT winner! pic.twitter.com/3eR30WDLqV
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 27, 2023
This is Tkachuk’s fifth trip to the playoffs in his seven-year career, and he’s proven to be an incredibly reliable performer under pressure. He’s a leader on the Panthers after just one season with the team, and I think another six points in the conference final is very doable.
Martin Necas Will Record Over 15 Shots
Through the regular season, Necas recorded 28 goals, 43 assists, 71 points, and 240 shots, and the 24-year-old center hasn’t slowed down in the playoffs.
In the first round against the Islanders, Necas added another 15 shots to his tally, and facing the Devils in the second round, he posted another 16. He’s clearly established himself as a player to watch this postseason, and the conference final should be no exception.
This season is Necas’ fourth consecutive advancement to the playoffs in his six-year career. While he established himself as a reliable presence on the ice over the last few seasons, 2022-23 has been a breakout year for the young forward, and I expect 15 shots against the Panthers to just be the beginning.
Panthers vs. Hurricanes: Schedule
|Game 1||May 18||8 p.m. ET||PNC Arena|
|Game 2||May 20||8 p.m. ET||PNC Arena|
|Game 3||May 22||8 p.m. ET||FLA Live Arena|
|Game 4||May 24||8 p.m. ET||FLA Live Arena|
|Game 5||May 26||8 p.m. ET||PNC Arena|
|Game 6||May 28||8 p.m. ET||FLA Live Arena|
|Game 7||May 30||8 p.m. ET||PNC Arena|
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