We’re down to the NHL Conference Finals and the final four teams in the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs: the Carolina Hurricanes are battling the Florida Panthers in the East, while the Vegas Golden Knights and Dallas Stars are dueling in the West. The Panthers and Golden Knights have never won a Stanley Cup, while Carolina hasn’t hoisted the greatest trophy in sports since 2006 and Dallas since 1999. We’re in for a real treat these next few weeks!
Below is a guide on the two Conference Final matchups and who to watch. To watch the Stanley Cup Playoffs on DISH, use this link to find the DISH package that’s right for you.
Eastern Conference Final: Carolina Hurricanes vs. Florida Panthers
Florida’s dream season continues! After upsetting the Boston Bruins in the first round, best regular season team ever in NHL history, the Panthers took care of the flailing Maple Leafs in relatively easy fashion with a 4-1 series victory. The final team that barely squeaked into the second wild card spot in the East before season’s end has shattered everyone’s expectations, and Florida is looking for its first Stanley Cup Final appearance since 1996 when they lost to the Colorado Avalanche. Will 2023 be the year of the rat once again?
Meanwhile, Carolina continues its stout postseason run after defeating the New York Islanders in round one and subduing the New Jersey Devils in round two. The Canes previously hoisted the Stanley Cup in 2006, and had another Finals appearance in 2002 in which they lost 4-3 to the Detroit Red Wings. While the Canes are the heavy favorites, don’t be surprised if the Panthers claw their way back to a second Finals appearance. Regardless of the outcome, this series should be fantastic.
Game 1: Thursday, May 18 at 8pm ET | at CAR | TNT
Game 2: Saturday, May 20 at 8pm ET | at CAR | TNT
Game 3: Monday, May 22 at 8pm ET | at FLA | TNT
Game 4: Wednesday, May 24 at 8pm ET | at FLA | TNT
*Game 5: Friday, May 26 at 8pm ET | at CAR | TNT
*Game 6: Sunday, May 28 at 8pm ET | at FLA | TNT
*Game 7: Tuesday, May 30 at 8pm ET | at CAR | TNT
Western Conference Final: Vegas Golden Knights vs. Dallas Stars
When the Vegas Golden Knights broke onto the scene as an expansion team in 2017, they shocked the sports world by not only compiling a winning record in the regular season, but also making it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final – unheard of for a first-year team trying to get its bearings. The VGK have been really solid since their inaugural foray, but they haven’t been back to The Big One since. Starting goaltender Laurent Brossoit was injured in Game 3 of the previous series against Edmonton and hasn’t returned; backup goalie Adin Hill has been in net since then and has done a respectable job. Stars Jack Eichel and Jonathan Marchessault will need to carry Vegas offensively if the team wants to advance for another shot at the Cup.
Meanwhile, the Dallas Stars are no stranger to the Stanley Cup Final even though they haven’t won since 1999. Most recently, the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated Dallas in the 2020 Final and the Stars almost went back-to-back in 2000 before losing to the New Jersey Devils. After being unceremoniously bounced in the first round last year, the Stars have looked much steadier this time around, all in part to insane performances by 38-year old Joe Pavelski in the previous round against Seattle. If Pavelski keeps drinking from the fountain of youth, the Stars will be very hard to beat.
Game 1: Friday, May 19 at 8:30pm ET | at VGK | ESPN
Game 2: Sunday, May 21 at 3pm ET | at VGK | ABC
Game 3: Tuesday, May 23 at 8pm ET | at DAL | ESPN
Game 4: Thursday, May 25 at 8pm ET | at DAL | ESPN
*Game 5: Saturday, May 27 at 8pm ET | at VGK | ABC
*Game 6: Monday, May 29 at 8pm ET | at DAL | ESPN
*Game 7: Wednesday, May 31 at 9pm ET | at VGK | ESPN