A Preview to the Stanley Cup Finals

Florida Panthers and Vegas Golden Knights are facing off at the Stanley Cup finals


The Stanley Cup Finals between the Vegas Golden Knights and the Florida Panthers begin on June 3rd and will be shown on the TNT channel. (graphic courtesy of Adam Merten)

The Stanley Cup Playoffs this year have been wild with insane first round upsets, Cinderella stories and decade-long narratives finally being put to rest. This year’s Stanley Cup Finals with the Florida Panthers vs the Vegas Golden Knights has the potential to be one of the best in a long, long time.

Path to the Finals: Florida Panthers.

The Panthers have had a wild season, starting off as the defending Presidents Trophy winners, having the best record in the league in the 2021-2022 season. The Panthers started slow after trading franchise cornerstone forward, Jonathan Huberdeau, to the Calgary Flames in exchange for forward Matthew Tkachuk in a blockbuster trade. Florida finished the season ranked 17th in the league, barely making the playoffs due to the Pittsburgh Penguins losing two vital games in the last week of the regular season.

The Panthers seemingly had an impossible task ahead of them in the first round, matching up against the top-seed Boston Bruins who had the best regular season in league history and were the clear favorites to win the Cup for the first time since 2011. Florida started the series slow, falling to a 3-1 series deficit before roaring back to eliminate Boston in a game seven overtime, breaking the hearts of countless Bruins fans around the world.

The Panthers next challengers were the Toronto Maple Leafs, who were feeling on top of the world after finally winning a playoff series for the first time since 2004, defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games. The Panthers made short work of Toronto, beating the Leafs in five games after going up 3-0 to send Florida to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 1996.

Florida continued their torrid pace, stomping the Carolina Hurricanes in a 4-0 series sweep, leaving the Hurricanes 0-12 in their past three conference finals appearances. The Panthers are entering the finals hot and rested, going 11-1 in their past twelve games, with forwards Matthew Tkachuk and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky being frontrunners for the Conn Smythe Trophy, which is awarded to the MVP of the entire playoffs.

Path to the Finals: Vegas Golden Knights.

The Golden Knights entered the season in a bit of a downward trend. They missed the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, and fired head coach Peter Deboer because of that. There were many Vegas doubters, myself included, but almost all of that doubt was washed away when they finished the regular season as the top seed in the Western conference and were matched up against a very weak Winnipeg Jets team.

The Knights easily beat the Jets in five games, and progressed to the second round against the red-hot Edmonton Oilers, who have arguably the two best players in the world with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. The series between the Golden Knights and the Oilers was a spectacle with both teams showing why they have the contender status that they both deserved. Vegas won the series 4-2, progressing to the Conference Finals for the fourth time in the franchise’s six years of existence.

In the conference finals they met the Dallas Stars in a rematch of an amazing series during the bubble in 2020. The Golden Knights went up 3-0 in the series before losing games four and five, giving many Vegas fans the scare of a possible reverse sweep before obliterating the Stars 6-0 in game six to send Vegas to their second ever Stanley Cup Finals.


This is such a difficult series to predict because you could make a very good argument on why both teams will win. Vegas has been consistently good this season but Florida has been near perfect in the playoffs recently, both teams have proven that they have potential to win the Cup. The goaltending for both teams has been fantastic throughout the entire postseason. This season, Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky revived his career and turned back the clock to when he was considered the best in the league and Golden Knights goalie Adin Hill who has been playing like a seasoned veteran in his first ever playoff appearance.

While the goalies have been amazing, the forwards on both sides have also been a sight to see. Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk has been the star for Florida, leading the team with 21 points through 16 games with multiple game and series winning overtime and last second goals. Jack Eichel has been the highlight for Vegas, and after being stuck in Buffalo for the majority of his career, he is taking advantage of making the playoffs for the first time with his new team, leading them to the Finals for a chance to lift his first Stanley Cup.

This series is near impossible to predict, but my prediction is that the Florida Panthers will win in seven hard fought and brutal games, bringing the Cup to South Florida for the first time in franchise history.