NHL 2023 Conference Finals Odds & Betting Preview

It's by no means the Conference Finals anyone had predicted, but here we are. With Carolina and Florida set to do battle in the East while Vegas and Dallas fight for West supremacy, we break down each series and provide our best bets.

Last Updated: May 17, 2023 2:19 PM ET Read Time: 4 min
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It’s going to take eight more wins to hoist the best trophy on the planet, with the NHL Conference Finals kicking off in Raliegh as the Carolina Hurricanes host the Florida Panthers in Game 1 on Thursday, and the Western Conference’s matchup with the Vegas Golden Knights hosting the Dallas Stars beginning on Friday.

The Hurricanes are tops on the Stanley Cup odds board +240, but only 60 points separate all four teams in the semifinals. It’s a very untypical Final Four in terms of markets as Vegas is the most northern-based team, but after what bettors saw in the first two rounds, nothing is guaranteed in the 2023 NHL playoffs.

Here’s my breakdown of this year's NHL Conference Finals. Be sure to also check out both our NHL picks page as well as our NHL odds page throughout the final two rounds to keep up to date with all the action.

Odds to win the Stanley Cup 

This odds widget represents the best odds available for each team from regulated sportsbooks. Analysis below may not match live odds.

Eastern Conference Finals: Florida Panthers vs Carolina Hurricanes

How we got here

Coming in as the No. 8 seed in the East, the Florida Panthers have had one of the more improbable paths to the semifinals. First, they knocked off the best team in hockey history the Boston Bruins by rallying to win Game 7 (in overtime) after trailing 3-1 in the series. They followed that up by knocking off the Toronto Maple Leafs in five games after the Leafs became the betting favorites to win the Cup following Boston’s first-round exit. 

The Carolina Hurricanes closed out both of their series with overtime victories. The Canes dispatched Ilya Sorokin and the Islanders in six games and then proved their depth and elite coaching in a 4-1 series win vs. a very good New Jersey team in Round 2. 

Panthers X-factor: Sergei Bobrovsky

Sergei Bobrovsky took over the starting role in Game 4 from Alex Lyon and has since gone 7-2 SU with a 2.75 GAA and a .919 SV%. He was as long as 250/1 to win the Conn Smythe and has moved to +1,000 which is the second shortest odds for a Florida player behind Matthew Tkachuk (+700).

The Panthers allow a lot of shot attempts and have the worst playoff expected-goal rates of the remaining teams, so Bobrovsky will likely be busy. Florida will live or die by his play as Carolina is not a team that gives up easy goals. 

Hurricanes X-factor: Brent Burns

Brent Burns leads all Carolina skaters in time on ice with an average of nearly 24 minutes per game. He has eight points through 11 games but could be a bigger part of the Carolina offense in this series. The Islanders had one of the best goalies in Sorokin while the Devils were the No.4 team in xGA at 5-on-5 during the regular season, but Florida is a much looser team in terms of allowing quality chances. 

Scoring could come easier vs. the Panthers for the offensive blueliner as Toronto’s Morgan Rielly contributed to 40% of the Leafs’ goals in the second round vs. Florida, and Boston’s Dmitry Orlov and Charlie McAvoy combined for 13 assists through seven games in the first round. 

Burn’s is currently +2,000 at bet365 to win the playoff MVP.

Panthers vs Hurricanes series prediction

Carolina will use its huge home-ice advantage and shut down the Cinderella story of the Panthers. The Hurricanes finished with the fourth-best home-ice point percentage and a +0.86 goal differential per game at home this year in the regular season. In the playoffs, Carolina owns a 1.86 GAA at home which is the best mark in the postseason. 

Florida was lucky that the Leafs shot a second-round-worst 5.88% shooting percentage while also going 4-0 in overtime across two series. The time off has slowed down the Panthers’ momentum as the club had next to no time off between the first and second rounds.

The rest is also helping the Canes, who could get Teuvo Teravainen back as he has been practicing with the club after missing all but the team’s first two playoff games. 

I like the Hurricanes to win the series as my best bet, but other wagers I like are Canes moneyline for Game 1 (-140) at home, Canes series handicap -1.5 (+155), and Burns to lead the series in points at +1,200.   

Best bet: Hurricanes to win series (-135 at DraftKings)

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Western Conference Finals: Dallas Stars vs Vegas Golden Knights

How we got here

The Vegas Golden Knights will have the home-ice advantage in the series after finishing with three more points than the Dallas Stars in the regular season. Vegas made quick work of the Winnipeg Jets in Round 1, and followed that up by eliminating Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl in six games with Adin Hill. 

The Stars, led by former Vegas coach Peter DeBoer, eliminated the Wild in Round 1 in six games and then went the distance with the Seattle Kraken in the second round before a 2-1 Game 7 win on Monday. 

Stars X-factor: Jake Oettinger

Dallas has all the pieces to win the Cup including depth scoring, great defense, and Top 10 special teams, but this series will be decided on the play of Jake Oettinger in net.

The netminder has been wildly inconsistent so far in the playoffs, which has been frustrating because his ceiling is higher than any other goalie in the playoffs right now, but we’ve seen more of his floor so far in the playoffs — yet the Stars are winning. 

He has a negative goals saved above expected/60 (GSAx/60) in the playoffs and ranks just ahead of Andrei Vasilevskiy and Connor Hellebuyck, whose play was a big reason why the Lightning and Jets didn’t sniff the second round.

If he can play up to his regular-season level, Dallas could be heading to the Finals in five games. He’s currently +1,000 to win the Conn Smythe.

Golden Knights X-factor: Bruce Cassidy

With questions in net as Vegas rides Adin Hill into the semifinals, the Knights can’t afford to be outcoached in this series, and it’s an uphill battle for Vegas bench boss Bruce Cassidy.

He’s already managed to eliminate the two best players in the postseason in McDavid and Draisaitl and did so with Adin Hill, who was the team’s No. 4 goalie to begin the season. His team also held Edmonton to just three even-strength goals over the final two games of the series, while Draisaitl was held pointless in the final two games after piling up 18 points in his previous 10 playoff games. 

DeBoer will have some edges thanks to his familiarity with the Golden Knights, but it’s how Cassidy will adapt to those moves that will make the biggest difference in this series. The Golden Knight coach has lots of depth and talent up front to play fluid and adaptable hockey in what will be a long series. 

Stars vs Golden Knights series prediction

The Golden Knights are -135 favorites to win this series thanks to the home-ice advantage, but this is going to be a long, hard-fought battle that could go the length. Both teams have great and experienced coaching, and although the Knights have questions in net, Oettinger hasn’t been great in the postseason either. 

The Dallas power play has been very important to the team’s success, but Cassidy has stressed that his team needs to be disciplined and Vegas just had plenty of practice defending the league’s No. 1 power play in Edmonton.

It’s arguable the Stars have had the easier task to get here with wins over the Wild (still scratching my head over the Marc-Andre Fleury start in Game 2) and the Kraken in Round 2.

On paper, Dallas seemingly has the edge thanks to Oettinger and its special teams, but I’m not convinced that its goaltending is going to steal this series. The Stars do have the best expected goals%/60 in the playoffs at even strength, but if Oettinger continues to be less than average, this series is going six or seven games. 

Although -190 might be out of some bettors’ threshold, I think that's better than a fair price to see this series go Over 5.5 games. I’d put this series going that long at 70% probable which implies -233 odds. Dallas +1.5 games also projects very similarly at -180.

Jonathan Marchessault to lead the series in points at +1,200 is my favorite longshot of the series. He leads all skaters in the series in shot attempts/60 and shots on goal/60. He’s finding ice and creating offense and had eight points over the final four games of the Edmonton series, including five goals and a series-clinching hat trick.  

Best bet: Series total Over 5.5 games (-190 at bet365)

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