- For the first time, the Panthers or Golden Knights will be crowned Stanley Cup Champions
- The Stanley Cup Final begins on Saturday, June 3rd, with Vegas pegged as -125 series favorites
- Two Panthers have the shortest odds to win the Conn Smythe trophy, as we dish out our best bet and pick below
Who would’ve predicted that the last two teams standing in the NHL Playoff bracket would be the Panthers and the Golden Knights when the postseason began? Probably nobody, but one of those teams will lift Lord Stanley’s Cup as the series begins in Sin City on Saturday, June 3rd.
It’s almost unfathomable to comprehend the heater that the Panthers are on. They are 11-1 in their last 12 playoff games, with six of those victories having come in overtime as they disposed of the first, second and fourth-best regular season teams.
Actually, the fourth-best regular season team, the Maple Leafs, were tied for that position with the team Florida is facing in the final, the Vegas Golden Knights. Below, we analyze the matchup before giving our Stanley Cup Final prediction as well as featuring the best bets and our pick to win the Conn Smythe Trophy.
Golden Knights vs Panthers Series Odds
|Team||Odds to Win Series||Series Spread|
|Vegas Golden Knights||-125||-1.5 games (+158)|
|Florida Panthers||+105||+1.5 games (-215)|
Since Vegas eliminated the Stars and the opening Stanley Cup odds for this series came out, the Panthers odds have shortened ever so slightly, indicating the public is hedging on the Cats to continue their improbable run.
For Vegas, this is their second Cup final in just their sixth year of existence. They had a Cinderella story run to the finals as an expansion team in 2018, but ultimately fell four games to one, to Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.
Odds as of June 1st at FanDuel Sportsbook. Sign up with the FanDuel promo code to bet on the 2023 Stanley Cup Final.
Panthers vs Golden Knights Matchup and Playoff Trends
Florida has used clutch scoring, the leadership of Matthew Tkachuk, physicality and out-of-this-world goaltending by Sergei Bobrovsky to get to the position they are in now.
The final chapter. pic.twitter.com/Nyn2DFT5Qb
— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) May 30, 2023
While the Panthers are 11-1 in their last 12, they’ve been far from dominant. Nine of those 11 wins have come by a single goal, and during that span, they are a perfect 6-0 in overtime. Some of that is obviously them being the better team, but luck also plays a major factor when considering that record in the extra session.
They’ve also been incredible on the road in the playoffs, with an outstanding 8-1 mark outside of Florida. However, as revealed in our Stanley Cup Final opening odds piece, the Panthers have never won at T-Mobile Arena, sporting a franchise 0-5 mark in Vegas.
Vegas All-Time Home Results vs Florida
|01/12/2023||VGK 4 – FLA 2|
|03/17/2022||VGK 5 – FLA 3|
|02/22/2020||VGK 5 – FLA 3|
|02/28/2019||VGK 6 – FLA 5 (SO)|
|12/17/2017||VGK 5 – FLA 2|
They’ll need at least one victory in Nevada if they hope to lift the big silver mug in June.
Both teams come into this series without any serious injuries, although Vegas has gone through the goalie carousel like nobody’s business this campaign, yet still somehow find themselves in pole position to win it all.
Robin Lehner went down before the season even started. Logan Thompson, who became the number one netminder in Lehner’s absence, has been out since March and Laurent Brossoit got hurt during the second round against Edmonton, meaning Adin Hill, the Golden Knights’ fourth-stringer has taken over the main duties in goal.
While you can’t really compare any goalie’s playoff performance to what Bobrovsky has done on the other side, Hill has been more than solid, posting a 7-2 record with a 2.07 goals against average and .937 save percentage since taking over.
HOLY MOLY ADIN HILL pic.twitter.com/b7vqoNWlWC
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) May 28, 2023
Really, goaltending is the only edge that Florida has. While Tkachuk has more points than any Vegas player, the Golden Knights have much more depth, with six players earning 14 or more playoff points up to this point as compared to three for Florida.
On defense, the Golden Knights are also bigger, have more championship experience and have been better adept at keeping shots and scoring chances to a minimum in front of their goaltender.
Anything can happen as the Panthers have already proven, but based on the matchup, this is Vegas’ series to lose and I’m rolling the dice on the more likely gamble here.
Prediction: Vegas in Five (+500)
Conn Smythe Trophy Pick
While the two favorites in the Conn Smythe Trophy odds are both Panthers, the next six players with the shortest odds are all Golden Knights.
The reason being is that any of those six players from Vegas in the table below can win it with a red-hot series, but for Florida, Bobrovsky and Tkachuk are the true heroes of this magical run.
2023 Conn Smythe Trophy Odds
Odds as of May 31st from FanDuel. Browse the best sportsbook promo codes for Stanley Cup Final betting.
While Vegas is our pick to win it all, there is still a solid chance Bobrovsky could win playoff MVP even if the Panthers lose. In NHL history, five players from losing teams have won the Conn Smythe trophy, with a goalie winning it on four of those occasions.
Although the odds aren’t too juicy at +200, Bobrovsky has been absolutely incredible, giving up more than two goals just once since the start of the second round. Even if they lose, he has a legitimate chance to take home the hardware, while picking a player from Vegas is a bit of a shot in the dark.
Without burying you in a sea of statistics, just absorb this one. Bobrovsky has 19.7 goals saved above expected for these playoffs. The next closest netminder? Igor Shesterkin at 8.8. “Bob” is far and away the reason Florida finds themselves with a chance to win it all, so take the Panthers netminder to win the Conn Smythe.
Prediction: Sergei Bobrovsky (+200)