2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (21) celebrates with the bench after scoring against the Detroit Red Wings during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, April 13, 2023, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

2023 Stanley Cup Playoff Preview

The 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs begin tonight with four games across the Eastern and Western Conferences.

Eastern Conference Previews

(1) Boston Bruins vs. (8) Florida Panthers

The Boston Bruins seem to be the team to beat in the Eastern Conference. They smashed a 47-year-old record by garnering 135 points, three more than the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens.

They face a Florida Panthers squad that has endured an up-and-down season just a year removed from winning the President’s Cup. A late push secured the Cats a playoff berth, but will they have what it takes to push past the behemoth Bruins? Game one of the series in Boston is tonight at 7:30 on ESPN.

(4) Toronto Maple Leaves vs. (6) Tampa Bay Lightning

It’s the second straight year with a Toronto-Tampa Bay first-round series.

The Lightning bested the Leaves in seven games last year en route to their Stanley Cup Final loss to the Colorado Avalanche. Tampa Bay struggled against lesser opponents this season but rose to the occasion against tougher opponents. This series is expected to be a nail-biter. Game one’s puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 Tuesday night in Toronto.

(2) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (7) New York Islanders

The Islanders, led by Ilya Sorokin, have a chance at a major upset.

New York has one of the better defenses in the league that is known to wear down opponents. Carolina is a multi-faceted team with a depth of talented scorers, headlined by Sebastian Aho and Martin Necas. The series begins tonight in Carolina.


(3) New Jersey Devils vs (5) New York Rangers

The Devils feature many strong players who are not experienced in the NHL playoffs. Despite this, there is a reason for optimism.

An offense led by Jack HughesJesper Bratt and Nico Hischier finished top-10 in scoring and strong defense and goaltending have allowed them to give up less than three goals per game on average.

The Rangers added former Stanley Cup champions Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrick Kane to their roster at the trade deadline. Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider both recorded 30+ goal seasons and will look to factor into the series that begins Tuesday night in Jersey.


Western Conference

(1) Vegas Golden Knights vs. (8) Winnipeg Jets

Vegas is back in the Stanley Cup playoffs after a one-year absence. This season has been a “next man up” mentality for the Golden Knights, who have had key players miss time and in response have seen contributions from every member of the team.

The Jets were a team that looked like an early favorite before limping to the playoffs. They are considered the least dangerous offensive team to reach the playoffs. The series begins Tuesday night in Vegas.

(2) Edmonton Oilers vs. (5) Los Angeles Kings

The Oilers’ late-season surge has them posted to do damage in the postseason.

Since March 1, they are 18-2-1 and have led the NHL in scoring while also allowing the eighth-fewest goals in that time. The Kings lack playoff experience with their goalkeepers but have received offensive contributions from just about every player on their roster.

The series begins tonight in Edmonton.

(4) Dallas Stars vs. (6) Minnesota Wild

Jake Oettinger leads a Dallas squad looking to avenge last year’s first-round playoff exit.

The Stars are one of the most prolific offensive teams in the West, but the question will be if other weapons can ease the burden on Oettinger to perform. Minnesota lost its leading scorer, Kirill Kaprizov, for the final month of the season but still cruised to a playoff spot. They will look for others to step up in his absence and rely on the goaltending tandem of Marc-Andre Fleury and Filip Gustavsson to carry them.

The series begins tonight in Dallas.


(3) Colorado Avalanche vs. (7) Seattle Kraken

The defending champions against a franchise making its first postseason appearance in its second season.

The Avs have struggled with their fair share of injuries this year, but that didn’t stop them from winning the Central in convincing fashion. Seattle’s transformation has been due in large part to a top-tier offense. The Kraken are a top-five team in goals scored, with 13 players who have scored more than 10 goals. The series begins Tuesday in Denver.

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