2023 NHL Stanley Cup Preview: Eastern Conference

 2023 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview: Eastern Conference

NHL Previews and Predictions

by Kameron LeTexier | Published: April 17, 2023

                   The NHL playoff bracket is set and its time to get excited. The most exciting part of the season may not even be the playoffs as the Connor Bedard sweepstakes are taking place at the draft lottery in May, but 2023 still looks to have a very enthralling playoffs. The Eastern Conference is stacked and looks to have the next Stanley Cup Champion within.


#8: Florida Panthers

                Big seasons from Matthew Tkachuk, Carter Verhaeghe and Brandon Montour are the only reason this team finds themselves playing past game 82 and not in the Connor Bedard lottery. With a round 1 matchup against the Bruins, it will not be long before the Panthers flawed goaltending and defensive play get the best of them. Their offensive firepower may win them a game, but that is all.

#7: New York Islanders


                
The Islanders would be a favourite to make a deep run, if not for the loaded Eastern Conference standing in their way. They play a collapsing defence in front of a Vezina finalist Ilya Sorokin and will punch teams up and down the ice with their physicality. They struggle to put the puck in the net, but playoff hockey only demands a couple of goals to win on some nights. Regardless, Bo Horvat will need to rediscover his scoring touch from Vancouver, or this group is bound to be on the golf course early. 

#6: New Jersey Devils


                    The Devils went out and grabbed the biggest fish on the market at the deadline in Timo Meier and have become one of the deepest skilled teams in this year’s playoffs. Their demise will come because of their soft play. Their extremely young roster has lacked push back and grit against many opponents equal to them. Pure skill and speed will not be enough to contend for the cup in the east. 

#5: Carolina Hurricanes


                    The Metro winners enter the playoffs with a great shutdown defensive core and a plethora of offensive weapons spread through their lineup. Unfortunately, injuries may be this team’s biggest roadblock as they are without Max Pacioretty and Andrei Svechnikov. With their finishing ability added into the Hurricanes potent lineup, they may have been the favourites to win it all. Regardless, this team will go nowhere unless Fredrick Anderson steps up and performs in the playoffs. 

#4: Toronto Maple Leafs

                  The only way this team can go on a run is exercising their first-round demons. They have the perfect mix up front of star power, grit, and shutdown defence. A reunion with Luke Schenn has now added all three of those elements to their defensive core too. An all-in deadline grabbing Ryan O’Reilly helped a ton, yet it is the same question as last year, can Matthews and Marner step up in the playoffs? If they can, it would not be a surprise if the Leafs broke the drought and hoisted the cup for the first time since 1967. 

#3: New York Rangers


                    Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko made the Rangers the winner of the deadline. With their now lethal offence and Jacob Trouba-led punishing defence, they have graduated from a young underdog to a Stanley Cup Contender. Igor Shesterkin will of course need to play like his Vezina winning self to cover up some defensive holes. If he does the Rangers should have zero problem making it back to the third round and beyond. 

#2: Tampa Bay Lightning


                    The Lightning look to reach their fourth straight Stanley Cup Final and look highly likely to do so. Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, and Andrei Vasilevskiy all remain rostered and coached by Jon Cooper. If they are all together, Tampa will never not be a contender. Despite a much shakier regular season than previous seasons, very few should be concerned about how this group will play under the bright lights. 

#1: Boston Bruins


                    65-12-5. The greatest regular season in NHL history. The most complete team in hockey has zero question marks throughout the lineup. A Vezina goalie between the pipes in Linus Ullmark and a suffocating defensive group that will frustrate opponents. Up front the Bruins have skill and a grinding offence that will kick you up and down the ice. Deadline acquisition Garnet Hathaway joins a fourth line with AJ Greer and Trent Frederic as the most punishing line in the playoffs. Do not forget about Brad Marchand who will provide grit and offence along with 60 goal scorer David Pastrnak. The Bruins are the easy favourites to win the cup in 2023. 

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