The 2022/23 National Hockey League season has reached its latter stages, with just four teams remaining on the road to the Stanley Cup Finals.
There is little to choose between each of the teams in the outright betting, which should make for exciting series in each of the Conference Finals.
Carolina Hurricanes are the marginal favourites with Betway to lift the trophy, and they will fancy their chances of seeing off Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Western Conference Finals should be a classic, with little to choose on paper between the Dallas Stars and Vegas Golden Knights.
Read on as we look at the schedule for the 2023 Stanley Cup Conference Finals before assessing which teams we think will progress to the NHL championship series.
Stanley Cup Conference Finals 2023 – Schedule
The Stanley Cup Conference Finals are set to run from May 18-31. Each match-up is a best of seven-game series, with the winners progressing to the Stanley Cup Finals. Here is the schedule:
Eastern Conference Finals – Carolina Hurricanes vs Florida Panthers
- May 18: Florida Panthers vs Carolina Hurricanes – PNC Arena
- May 20: Florida Panthers vs Carolina Hurricanes – PNC Arena
- May 22: Carolina Hurricanes vs Florida Panthers – FLA Live Arena
- May 24: Carolina Hurricanes vs Florida Panthers – FLA Live Arena
- May 26: Florida Panthers vs Carolina Hurricanes – PNC Arena
- May 28: Carolina Hurricanes vs Florida Panthers – FLA Live Arena
- May 30: Florida Panthers vs Carolina Hurricanes – PNC Arena
Western Conference Finals – Vegas Golden Knights vs Dallas Stars
- May 19: Dallas Stars vs Vegas Golden Knights – T-Mobile Arena
- May 21: Dallas Stars vs Vegas Golden Knights – T-Mobile Arena
- May 23: Vegas Golden Knights vs Dallas Stars – American Airlines Centre
- May 25: Vegas Golden Knights vs Dallas Stars – American Airlines Centre
- May 27: Dallas Stars vs Vegas Golden Knights – T-Mobile Arena
- May 29: Vegas Golden Knights vs Dallas Stars – American Airlines Centre
- May 31: Dallas Stars vs Vegas Golden Knights – T-Mobile Arena
Stanley Cup Conference Finals 2023 – Preview & Predictions
The Eastern Conference match-up between the Hurricanes and Panthers is a classic case of two different playing styles meeting in the play-offs.
The Hurricanes are undoubtedly one the best defensive teams in the league, while the Panthers’ offense is their primary weapon.
A quick look at their respective post-season results highlights just how difficult it is to predict a winner in this tie.
The Panthers are 6-1 on the road, which suggest they have the ability to make life difficult for the Hurricanes on their own ice.
However, the Hurricanes have gone 5-1 at home during the play-offs – a record which adds further intrigue to the series.
The Panthers have reached this stage of the play-offs the hard way, defeating the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs in the first two rounds.
By contrast, the Hurricanes were expected to safely navigate their way past the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils and got the job done with minimal fuss.
As with most play-off series, the final result will likely hinge on whether each team’s standout performers live up to expectations and which side avoids injuries.
The Panthers’ Aleksander Barkov had the edge over Sebastian Aho during the regular season, but the Hurricanes’ star has had the upper hand during the play-offs.
While Aho has scored just one more point in one fewer game, eight of his tally of 10 have come when the teams have been five-on-five.
By contrast, Barkov has just three points at even strength which suggests the Hurricanes just need to stay out of the penalty box to negate his threat.
Given what we have seen during the play-offs and the strength of their respective rosters, the Hurricanes are fancied to take this series in six or seven games.
The Western Conference Finals is also expected to be a close affair, with the Stars and Golden Knights two extremely evenly-matched teams.
The Stars needed six games to see off Minnesota Wild in round one, before being pushed to seven games by Seattle Kraken in the second round.
Vegas recorded a 4-1 series victory over Winnipeg Jets in the first round and needed just one additional game to defeat Edmonton Oilers in round two.
The two teams are meeting in their second Western Conference Finals series, with the Stars taking the first one 4-2 in 2019/20.
The Stars won all three games against the Golden Nights during the regular season, although two of those victories came after a shoot-out.
They have been defensively sound during the play-offs, allowing the fewest expected goals per 60 minutes (2.19) and the second-fewest high-danger chances (9.18).
Their blueline corps is built on the solidity provided by Miro Heiskanen, whose nine assists during the play-offs have taken him to 82 points for the season.
With veterans Ryan Suter, Colin Miller and Esa Lindell also among their defensive options, the Stars are a tough nut to crack when they are in the mood.
Former Stars forward Brett Hull fancies them to go all the way this season, saying their solid team has what it takes to win the Stanley Cup.
“They’ve had some injuries, but they’ve got great goaltending.” Hull told Betway. “They’ve got great players and they’re gonna be right in there till the very end in the playoffs.
The Stars will need to be on top of their game to fend off a Golden Knights team that has scored at a higher rate at even strength than any other play-off team (3.4 goals per 60 minutes).
Their ability to force neutral zone turnovers is one of their biggest strengths and could pay dividends against a Stars team that likes to push forward.
The Golden Knights were the number one seed in the Western Conference coming into the play-offs and have stepped on the gas during the post-season.
However, four games on home ice just about tips the scales in favour of the Stars and they are fancied to edge a series that looks set to run to seven games.