With the Vegas Golden Knights scheduled to begin the Stanley Cup Final against the Florida Panthers on Saturday, a lot will wonder if Vegas can be the team that ends the cinderella run of the Panthers. Ahead of Game 1 on Saturday, we'll be making our Golden Knights Stanley Cup Final predictions.
It is hard to deny the Panthers, who have beaten the greatest regular season team in NHL history in the Boston Bruins, along with two strong opponents in the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Carolina Hurricanes on their way to the Stanley Cup Final. The Bruins gave them a very tough series that went to overtime in Game 7, but the Panthers have only lost one game since then.
The Golden Knights have not faced elimination in these playoffs, defeating the Winnipeg Jets in five games, and the Edmonton Oilers and Dallas Stars in six games. Vegas has plenty of star power, headlined by Jack Eichel, who they traded for during the 2021-2022 season. That move, along with others is paying dividends now, and this team is looking to do what the first ever Golden Knights team did not do. That is win the Stanley Cup Final.
Both of these franchises are looking to win their first Stanley Cup. It is a matchup between a cinderella team in the Panthers, and a loaded team in the Golden Knights who were expected to be here. With that being said, let's move on to our Golden Knights Stanley Cup Final predictions.
3. Golden Knights jump out to early lead in series
When Game 1 of Stanley Cup Final gets played on Saturday, the Panthers will have gone nine days without playing. You could argue either way about whether that is beneficial or a detriment, but either way, the first two games being at home is big for the Golden Knights. It will be critical that they take at least one of these games, because if Florida steals Game 1, they have the momentum on their side, and we have seen what happens when they have that on their side.
I predict the Golden Knights to win at least the first two games of this series. When they did so against the Stars, it was such a death blow. Dallas made things interesting by forcing a Game 6 after falling down 3-0 in the series, but it was too much to overcome in the end. Expect the Golden Knights to take control of the series early on.
2. Bobrovsky and Tkachuk give the Golden Knights a scare
With how well Matthew Tkachuk and Sergei Bobrovsky have played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it is only a matter of time until they really get things rolling at some point in this series. I predicted the Golden Knights to take at least a 2-0 series lead, but at some point, the Panthers are going to give Vegas real trouble.
Florida has shown a great ability to hang in games and win in overtime. After the Golden Knights take a multiple-game lead in the series, expect Tkachuk and Bobrovsky to come back with a vengeance. The prediction is that after falling down early in the series, the Panthers roar back and force a Game 7. There will be one comfortable win in there, but at least one of the wins will be in a low-scoring overtime game, and the hero will be Tkachuk once again.
1. Jack Eichel wins the Conn Smythe
The Golden Knights took a risk when trading for Jack Eichel. He was dealing with a neck injury, and argued with the Buffalo Sabres about how to treat it. Eichel eventually got the surgery he wanted, which was a disc replacement surgery that had never been performed on an NHL player.
The treatment worked, and Eichel eventually returned. He has performed to the level that fans knew he was capable of, especially in these playoffs. The Golden Knights will be rewarded for taking the risk and acquiring an elite talent that frankly some other teams should have been more aggressive in acquiring.
The prediction is the Golden Knights win the Stanley Cup in Game 7, and Jack Eichel wins the Conn Smythe, validating the all-in move that was made in November 2021.