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Stanley Cup Final Game 1 Preview: First-time champion to come

Despite the Boston Bruins setting single-season records and the Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers having star-studded rosters, the 2023 Stanley Cup Final will not include any of the top favorites entering the postseason.

While an unlikely matchup, there is no doubting both the Florida Panthers and the Vegas Golden Knights are worthy of their places in the Stanley Cup Final, as both teams aim to be crowned champions for the first time.

WhatFlorida Panthers @ Vegas Golden Knights - Game 1
WhereT-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
When8 PM ET, Saturday, June 3rd
How to watchSportsnet
OddsFLA Panthers +110, VGS Golden Knights -130

Surprise pair reach Cup Final

It’s safe to say that the 2023 Stanley Cup Final isn’t the matchup that many fans expected, but both teams certainly earned their way here. The Florida Panthers will be representing the Eastern Conference after being the last team to make the postseason, while the Vegas Golden Knights will be making their second appearance in their six-year existence.

The Florida Panthers are +110 to win the Stanley Cup, while the Vegas Golden Knights are slightly favored with -130 odds.

The first puck of the Stanley Cup Final drops on Saturday, June 3 at 20:00 ET in Vegas, as the Golden Knights were the higher seed over the Panthers. 

Florida make the most of playoff chance

The 2023 Stanley Cup Final is not quite the matchup many were expecting heading into the season, let alone the playoffs. The Panthers were the final team to even earn their spot in the postseason, but they’ve certainly made the most of it.

In fact, if not for a late season Pittsburgh Penguins loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, arguably the worst team in the NHL, the Panthers wouldn’t have even made the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Regardless, they went on to eliminate the Boston Bruins in the first round, who set records for the most wins (65) and points (135) in a single season.

Florida was down 3-1 in that series, came back to win it, and then knocked out another Original Six team in the Toronto Maple Leafs in 4-1 fashion.

Finally, they then eliminated the Carolina Hurricanes - who boasted the second-best regular-season record behind the Bruins - in the Eastern Conference Finals in a 4-0 sweep. Such dominance is why the Panthers will have 10 days of rest heading into Saturday’s Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Vegas' progress more routine

It looked as though the Vegas Golden Knights were going to sweep the Western Conference Finals as well after getting out to a 3-0 lead over the Dallas Stars.

That was fresh off their series win over Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers, who many thought could go all the way.

Vegas was just as strong in the first round, as they were the only team to need just five games to advance, taking down the Winnipeg Jets 4-1.

As you can see, while rather surprising, both the Panthers and Knights certainly earned the right to battle for the Stanley Cup.

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