Florida Panthers vs. Vegas Golden Knights: Stanley Cup Finals odds, preview

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Vegas Golden Knights right wing Reilly Smith (19) and Florida Panthers center Carter Verhaeghe (23) battle for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, March 7, 2023, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

The 2023 Stanley Cup Finals will officially be a David vs. Goliath matchup that sees the team with the most points in the Western Conference square off against a squad that squeaked into the postseason.

It’s the Florida Panthers versus the Vegas Golden Knights.

It’s fairly easy to tell who oddsmakers will favor heading into the series based on their playoff seeding. The Golden Knights (1) were one of the NHL’s best teams all season, whereas the Panthers (WC2) needed a bit of help to even make the playoffs in the first place.

How big of an advantage does Vegas have according to oddsmakers?

The Golden Knights open up with -140 odds to win the Stanley Cup at FanDuel Sportsbook.

Florida, on the other hand, finds itself in a familiar position in this best-of-seven series. The Panthers are the underdogs once again with +120 odds at FanDuel Sportsbook to lift Lord Stanley’s prestigious trophy.

The second wild-card team overcame both No. 1 seeds in the Eastern Conference (Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes), as well as a No. 2 seed in the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s been a highly improbably run from Florida, but they’ve navigated it with relative ease, winning each series by respective scores of 4-3, 4-1 and 4-0. If the Panthers want to lift the cup, all they have to do is beat a third No. 1 seed.

The Golden Knights have had things a bit easier up to this point. Vegas has overcome the Winnipeg Jets (WC2), Edmonton Oilers (2) and Dallas Stars (2) as it racked up a record of 12-5 in those series.

Vegas looked to have booked its ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals when it went up 3-0 in the series, but the Stars fought back to make the series interesting. However, in Game 6, the Golden Knights asserted their dominance with a 6-0 victory in front of the Dallas crowd. These two losses eventually hurt Vegas’ odds as it was projected to be an even bigger favorite a few days ago.

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals is set for Saturday, June 3 at 8 p.m. on TNT. The Golden Knights are -130 favorites (-1.5 puck line at +190 odds) at home in the series opener.

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