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Three Keys to the Stanley Cup Final

(AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

After another incredible NHL postseason, Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final is now just three days away! The Vegas Golden Knights and Florida Panthers are the only teams remaining, and although the ride has been great for both organizations, only one can claim the ultimate prize. We can only do so much previewing and predicting, but here are three keys for both teams heading into the year’s final series. 


The guys in between the pipes could easily be the difference in this series. So far, both Adin Hill and Sergei Bobrovsky have been exceptional for their teams, shutting down powerful offences and winning games a lot more often than losing them. The resurgence of Bobrovsky has been the story of the playoffs for Florida so far, but Hill’s stats in his ten starts are quietly a little bit better. However, Bobrovsky’s ability to completely shut the door and steal games for the Panthers has been unmatched by anyone in the postseason.  

If both goalies continue their great play, this series should be full of close, one-score games. If one crumbles in the spotlight or loses his confidence, his team will be at a significant disadvantage that may prove too much to overcome. They’ve had the better goalie in every series that either of these teams has won. This likely won’t be a trend that ends in the Final, which makes goaltending the most crucial of the three keys for both teams heading into the series.   

Special Teams

The powerplay and penalty kill are often difference-makers in the postseason, but Florida and Vegas still have room for improvement. Both have been decent on the powerplay but have certainly struggled with a man down, ranking as the bottom two teams that moved past the first round in PK%. They did happen to play against some very strong powerplays in Edmonton and Boston, but it still should be something that both teams are looking to improve upon. 

Although this may look like a weakness, it also provides an opportunity. If Vegas or Florida can clean their special teams up in the Final, they’ll be at a definite advantage. Both teams will have ample opportunities to do it, too, as Vegas has taken 250 penalty minutes in the playoffs, and the Panthers have taken 203.  

Continuing Positive Trends

Neither one of these teams has had scoring issues in the postseason, but they’ll need to find ways to keep it up against the very hot goaltenders they’re going up against. No team has scored more than the Golden Knights in the playoffs, but Vegas also holds a high shooting percentage of 12.2%. Of course, that could continue, but it would be an issue for the Knights if those numbers took a significant dip at the wrong time. They’ll need the sticks to stay hot for a few more games.  

Another trend that could affect the Cup Final is Florida’s overtime success. The Panthers have won half their playoff games after regulation time and sit at an overall record of 6-0. The Knights haven’t been bad either, going 3-1, but if Florida can continue to find ways to win in overtime, they’ll be very tough to beat four times.  This series should be a close one, and if only one team is triumphing in the extra frame, they’ll probably be lifting the Stanley Cup at the end of it.


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