Breaking News
More () »

2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Round Two Previews and Predictions

Here's how we see things shaking out among the eight teams still standing.

NEW YORK — Well that was quite an opening round.

Gone are the defending Stanley Cup champions, the winner of the past three Eastern Conference titles, and this season's record-breaking Presidents' Trophy winners.

The dust has settled, and here's what we're left with.

Eastern Conference

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Florida Panthers

Carolina Hurricanes vs. New Jersey Devils

Western Conference

Dallas Stars vs. Seattle Kraken

Vegas Golden Knights vs. Edmonton Oilers

Let's take a look at each series and offer a prediction.

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Florida Panthers

Locked On has a daily podcast for EVERY NHL team, find yours today!

This is a case of one team finally breaking through to the second round after failing to do so for 19 years in the Toronto Maple Leafs vs. a team nobody expected to advance in the Florida Panthers.

Florida clinched their playoff spot days before the end of the regular season, and proceeded to knocks off the Boston Bruins - who finished 43 points ahead of them in the standings - in a stunning seven-game upset and after being down 3-1 in the series.

One would think the Maple Leafs would now be primed for a long run after beating the Tampa Bay Lightning in the opening round, and they'd probably be right.

The Panthers, however, should not be taken lightly. Do so at your own peril. Just ask the Bruins.

Prediction: Leafs in 7

Carolina Hurricanes vs. New Jersey Devils

These two teams fought to the very end of the regular season for Metropolitan Division supremacy. In the end, the Hurricanes finished on top and were rewarded with a fairly easy first-round series with the New York Islanders. 

The Devils, meanwhile, were pushed to the brink by the New York Rangers, and overcame the Blueshirts thanks to some stifling team defense and aa breakout performance from goalie Akira Schmid.

Carolina comes into this one hurting, though, as Andrei Svechnikov, Teuvo Teravainen, and Max Pacioretty are all out with serious injuries.

Health is so important through the rigors of NHL playoff hockey, and that lack of depth will probably prove to be the difference here, especially if Schmid stays hot.

Prediction: Devils in 6

Dallas Stars vs. Seattle Kraken

Locked On has a daily podcast for EVERY NHL team, find yours today!

Anyone who thinks this will be a cakewalk for the Dallas Stars hasn't been paying attention.

Sure, the Colorado Avalanche only faintly resembled the 2022 version, but the second-year Seattle Kraken just defeated the defending Stanley Cup champions thanks to some tremendous depth and fanastic goaltending.

This Stars team is pretty darn good, though. They're led by some young stars in Roope Hintz (who leads the NHL in playoff scoring), Jason Robertson, Miro Heiskanen, and Jake Oettinger, and have some pretty hungry veterans looking to add to their legacies.

They also beat the Minnesota Wild without key player Joe Pavelski for the majority of the series.

This could very well be the most lopsided series of the second round.

Prediction: Stars in 5

Vegas Golden Knights vs. Edmonton Oilers

Connor McDavis vs. Jack Eichel in the Stanley Cup Playoffs? Yes please.

Both of these teams have some serious star power, with more on the Oilers side of things. They were the highest average scoring team in the opening round, with three players with at least 10 points (Leon Draisaitl, McDavid, and Evan Bouchard).

Vegas got captain Mark Stone back before the postseason and he's tied for their team lead with Chandler Stephenson at eight points apiece.

Goaltending will likely decide this one. Is Stuart Skinner up to the task for the Oilers? Can Laurent Brossoit continue to carry the load for the Golden Knights.

Expect a long, hard-fought battle in what could be the most entertaining series.

Prediction: Oilers in 7

Locked On has a daily podcast for EVERY NHL team, find yours today!

Before You Leave, Check This Out