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Cup Final Prediction, And Who Sens Fans Should Be Cheering For

The Seven Player Profile Playoff Predictor went 1-1 in round three and stands 9-5 thus far in the playoffs as we head into the final round.

Here’s a quick review and prediction for the final.


Carolina Hurricanes (M1) vs Florida Panthers (W2)

I said in my previous piece that, unless Matthew Tkachuk was at his disruptive best and Sergei Bobrovsky was able to tip the series in the Panthers' favour, the Canes would win.

Well, they both delivered on those requirements and the series was a sweep. Had either of them just been good, it might have been a sweep in the other direction.

I agree with Rod Brind’Amour’s assessment of the series. All of those games could have gone the other way, but you could tell in Game 3 that Bobrovsky was clearly in the Canes’ heads and when teams start thinking instead of letting their instincts take over, the other team is clearly in the driver’s seat.

Prediction: Canes in 6

Result: Panthers in 4


Vegas Golden Knights (P1) vs Dallas Stars (C2)

Vegas’ advantage going into the series was depth and it showed. Combine that with the fact Jake Oettinger wasn’t able to do for the Stars what Bobrovsky did for the Panthers, and it really wasn’t as close as the OT games and six-game series may have led us to believe.

Much like the Panthers, the Golden Knights are very opportunistic in overtime. As indicated in my previous piece, the teams that can deliver in those scenarios usually win.

The depth of the Golden Knights down the middle and throughout the lineup was never more evident than in Game 6 where Eichel, Stephenson, Stone, Pietrangelo and Theodore were all kept off the scoreboard, and they routed the Stars 6-0.

Prediction: Golden Knights in 7

Result: Golden Knights in 6

Cup Final Prediction:

It might seem like I am going off the board on this one, but I no longer regard the Panthers as an eighth-seed wildcard. Their profile players are delivering at the level it would take for them to be successful.

Had the Bobrovsky of the regular season (3.07 GAA and .901 save percentage) shown up in the playoffs, they would likely have not made it past the Bruins in Game 5. Instead, he's posted an 11-2 record with a 2.21 GAA and a .935 save percentage. His team has played better, to be sure. This just feels a lot different. His team is also playing with the confidence of knowing they don’t need to run and gun with the opposition.

The Panthers feel like the Habs of ’93. They have six overtime wins and another win with five seconds to go in regulation (Habs had 10 OT wins in ’93). Clearly, they are the most opportunistic team and, when you couple that with a goalie who makes it feel like a Patrick Roy run, you have a psychological edge over your opponent.

The Panthers aren’t the best team. At times, they seemed overwhelmed against the Bruins and the Hurricanes carried the play for large stretches, but didn’t have much to show for it and, over a long game and series, this wears on the psyche. The Habs weren’t the best team in ’93 either. Who can forget Patrick Roy winking at Tomas Sandstrom during the Cup Final? He was in their heads. He knew it and the Kings knew as well.

Vegas is a much deeper team. The Panthers rise and fall on their Profile players. Players like Sam Bennett and Sam Reinhart have had solid playoffs. That said, the Panthers’ scoring distribution is more top heavy than the Golden Knights. The Panthers haven’t won a game the way the Golden Knights did in Game 6 against the Stars with no top players registering points.

While both teams have shown the ability to be clutch in OT, this series will come down to goaltending. And while Adin Hill is putting himself in a great position to negotiate as a UFA this summer, I think his number is going to come up in the draw against Bobrovsky.

Couple that with Matthew Tkachuk being on a collision course with the Conn Smythe trophy and I think Florida feels like a team of destiny.

Prediction: Panthers in 6

For Sens Nation, this Panthers run has a silver lining as well. Brady Tkachuk is already on record as to how motivated he is to bring what his brother has been doing for Florida to Ottawa.

If you want to accelerate a rebuild, have your captain and leader watch his brother win the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe trophies. This is all the reason Sens Nation should need to back the Panthers in the final.

If you are looking for more, consider these:

1) FORMER SENS – Whichever way this ends, a very recently former Senator(s) is going to get their name on the Stanley Cup. It will either be Stone and Michael Amadio with Vegas or Anthony Duclair and Colin White with Florida.

While the Sens traded Stone, it was because he didn’t want to be part of the rebuild, and this led to the Erik Brannstrom acquisition which has yet to pay dividends... if I'm being kind.

Duclair and White both ended up in Florida because the Senators didn’t want them anymore. Duclair has had some impact for the Panthers in the postseason and the Colin White of Florida has been what Sens fans came to expect of him.

Duclair and White are like a former spouse you'd be happy to see meet someone else. Stone is the one who left you at the altar. It was probably for the best as the Senators really needed to bottom out to fully rebuild, but it doesn’t mean you want him to win the Cup while you are still getting over him.


Three of the final four teams in the NHL playoffs came from no-tax states and both teams in the finals do. We can discuss the advantages of that in a separate story.

However, not only did the Vegas Golden Knights benefit from being in a no tax state, but they also leveraged the LTIR loophole for Stone and Reilly Smith who both are doing just fine in the playoffs.

Did they break any rules? No. Was that how the LTIR was supposed to be used? No.


I know the Golden Knights paid $500 million USD for their franchise and the Senators paid $50 million USD in 1992. In today’s purchasing power, that would be about $115 million USD.

I see the delta and, for that kind of money, you should have a favourable expansion formula. George McPhee played the GMs throughout the league like fiddles, accumulating assets for “understandings” that certain players wouldn’t be taken when he probably wasn’t going to anyway. Again, no rules were broken, and it was a brilliant piece of work.

That doesn’t mean we have to like it. Making the Cup finals in your inaugural season and now for the second time in the first six years? I am sorry, I speak now as a fan who has endured as many losing seasons as winning ones. Let them know what it is like to suffer before they get to call themselves champions.

To say that the casino odds are in their favour is an understatement.

Not only am I picking the Panthers with my head, but also with my heart. They have to win for

the sake of my sanity and the Senators rebuild.

By Pat Maguire | Sens Nation Hockey


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