The Edmonton Oilers will try to get past another Pacific Division opponent in the Vegas Golden Knights, while the Dallas Stars try to hold off the Seattle Kraken in the West semifinals.
If the Boston Bruins losing in the first round was the most surprising thing of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, then the Seattle Kraken knocking out the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche was close behind.
They now have to face off against another Central Division opponent in the Dallas Stars.
With the Avs now out of the way, fans of the Edmonton Oilers are excited at their chances of making the Stanley Cup Final this year after losing to Colorado in the Western Conference Finals last season.
They’ll have to get through the Vegas Golden Knights first, who cruised through the Winnipeg Jets in the first round.
To win series (Odds correct as of 5/2/3)
While it wasn’t the only upset in the first round, seeing a team in just their second year of being a franchise knock off the defending champs was quite a shock.
That’s what the Kraken were able to pull off despite not having anywhere near the star power of the Avalanche.
They were able to play great defense rather than trying to keep pace with the likes of Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen.
Seattle are once again the underdogs in their second round series, as they’ll now have to face another team that plays stout defense in the Dallas Stars.
Leading scorer Jared McCann is back fit, so the pressure will be on him to lead the young squad.
The Stars are a great defensive team, which they used to their advantage to take down the division-rival Minnesota Wild in the first round.
Dallas should also get a boost in the locker room with the return of Joe Pavelski after he suffered a head injury in the first round.
They also have great young talent, spearheaded by Jason Robertson, and Roope Hintz is also among the goalscoring leaders in the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs thus far.
He and the Stars were able to defeat the Kraken in two of their three matchups this season, and the only loss was in overtime.
Dallas deserve to be favorites, but Seattle are now on everyone's radar.
To win series (Odds correct as of 5/2/23)
|Vegas Golden Knights
Every year feels like 'the year' for the Edmonton Oilers, and that will likely be the case for as long as they have Connor McDavid.
Yet again, he and teammate Leon Draisaitl were the top two point-scorers in the NHL. Of course, McDavid took the headlines by becoming the first skater with over 150 points since 1995-96.
Goaltending has always been the Oilers’ primary issue, but they at least began this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs the same way as last year - by beating the Los Angeles Kings.
With McDavid leading the way, Edmonton were the highest-scoring team in the league this season, and goalie Stuart Skinner now has more experience under his belt.
With the Avs eliminated, the road to the Stanley Cup Final could prove to be a smooth one for Edmonton.
The team trying to end the Oilers’ dreams are the Vegas Golden Knights.
After being one of the biggest disappointments in 2022 and missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs entirely, they quickly turned things around.
Despite losing Max Pacioretty in the offseason, they remained quite a bit healthier this season to prove that wasn’t an issue.
Vegas were the only team in the first round to need just five games to win their series, as the Winnipeg Jets never really felt like they had a chance.
Things turn up quite a bit against the Oilers, however. They lost three of four meetings with Edmonton this year, so they’ll need to make adjustments ahead of this series.
The Oilers are still the favorites to represent the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup Final at odds of +450, while Vegas are +250.
The Stars are close behind with a +270 price, with the Kraken +475.