Brock shares his predictions prior to the start of the 2023 Stanley Cup Final between Vegas and Florida

Here we go! We have the Florida Panthers taking on the Vegas Golden Knights, as each team will try to win the first ever Stanley Cup in their franchise’s history. This should be a fun, entertaining series since both teams are able to put up a lot of goals. As for any game or event, it becomes a little more fun if you have some action on it! We’ve had a profitable postseason run so far, so let’s get into this series and figure out which team to back in order to close out the 2022-23 NHL season with a win!

Round 3 Results

  • Series Prices: 1-1 (-0.29 units)
  • Exact Outcomes: 1-1 (+3.00 units)

Total Results

  • Series Prices: 9-5 (+4.39 units)
  • Exact Outcomes: 7-7 (+27.25 units)

FLORIDA PANTHERS (42-32-8) 92 pts

VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS (51-22-9) 111 pts

It’s been a long, wild, winding road that brought us this Stanley Cup Final matchup. At the beginning of the season if you had been told that these two teams would win their respective conferences, it wouldn’t have been too much of a shocker. But then once we got deep into the grueling NHL schedule, not only were these teams not really considered true Stanley Cup contenders anymore, but it looked like they may not even make the postseason. Vegas had to battle a multitude of injuries, most notably in the crease where the Golden Knights had to turn to a goalie who was #4 on the depth in the preseason. That goalie was Adin Hill, and he is about to start in net looking to continue his strong play in order to have his teammates & his names permanently engraved into history. They also had to play half the season without their team captain & defensively skilled forward Mark Stone. Well, he made his return for the playoffs and now has 15 points in 17 games. With Stone and multiple goalies injured, many thought that Vegas would fall off and need to battle for a playoff berth. However, they managed to hang on and win the Pacific Division. That’s what depth and coaching can do for you – it can also let you win championships, which is exactly what Vegas will try to accomplish after being written off by so many. Florida had to go through their share of injuries as well, but their biggest problem was that they were on the outside looking in at the playoff berths in the 2nd half of the season. In fact, they needed some MAJOR help from Chicago & Columbus, two of the league’s worst teams, in order to even qualify for the postseason. Their prayers were answered in the form of the Pittsburgh Penguins falling to the Blackhawks & Blue Jackets in the final week of the season to fall out of the final wild card, allowing Florida to sneak in. The Panthers got that final spot and haven’t looked back. They rocked the hockey world by defeating the record-setting, heavily favored Bruins in Round 1, and then they made Toronto’s feeling of relief when they won their first series since 2004 very short-lived by eliminating the Leafs in 5 games. They followed that up with a sweep of one of the best analytical teams in hockey, handing the Hurricanes 4 consecutive 1-goal losses.

So now here we are. The Vegas Golden Knights & Florida Panthers are vying for one of the most sought-after trophies in all of sports, looking to etch their names into the history books. This should be a fun one. The Panthers are coming off a low-scoring series, but that’s not their style. They just happened to play a low-event team while Bobrovsky has been scorching hot. Florida will want to play their fast, heavy forechecking game while throwing every puck in sight onto the net. That has been their recipe for success for much of the postseason – along with their previously mentioned netminder. That won’t be a bad strategy against a Vegas team who has been allowing just over 30 shots per game in this postseason. But Florida’s success will be determined by what they do after these shots. Will they be able to chase down pucks and gain body position for second chances, or will Vegas’ solid, experienced defensive corps succeed in cleaning up the trash and keeping the Panthers outside of the high-danger areas? I expect Vegas will have some success in that regard, but they will also need to follow that up with successful breakouts and clearing attempts. That won’t be so easy against a Panthers team that loves to be aggressive in the offensive zone.

On the other side of the ice, the Golden Knights will try to come at Florida in waves. This team is very deep and secondary scoring has been a near constant this postseason. Limiting goals from the bottom 6 is another aspect of Florida’s success, but this bottom 6 will be much better than the ones they have seen up to this point. Vegas will try to roll lines, keep the puck deep, and execute their line changes after pucks have been cleared. When that happens, Vegas will retrieve, breakout, gain entry and start the process over again, in hopes that they can maintain the majority of the puck possession in this series. If Florida runs into trouble on their controlled exits, that could be a problem. If that were to happen, they would need Bobrovsky to continue this magical run he has been on and bail them out of some defensive zone lapses. The Panthers have the 4th worst xGA/60 in the postseason. If they find themselves hemmed into their zone, it could be a quick series if Bobrovsky is not on top of his game.

Both of these teams will try to control the pace & style of this game. The first to succeed will create a lot of problems for their opponent, so who will get that edge? I’m going to say Vegas. This series is a tough one to predict, so by default, I have to back the team with the superior depth. It’s also a bit comforting to back the team with the superior xGF/60 through the first three rounds of the playoffs. Vegas files in at 50.03% in that category, while Florida sits at just 46.58%. No team in over 15 years has won the Stanley Cup with an xGF/60 share below 48%. So, I’m going to say the Golden Knights take it in 6. Give me Vegas -125.

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