Ice hockey: Who will win the Stanley Cup?
The National Hockey League season culminates in June with the Stanley Cup being contested between Vegas Golden Knights and Florida Panthers.
What is the Stanley Cup?
The Stanley Cup is the trophy awarded to the winner of the NHL finals, a best-of-seven series contested between two NHL teams.
The playoffs begin with 16 sides split evenly across the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference, whittled down by knockout rounds until we have just two teams remaining.
The format of each playoff round, including the final, sees the team who finished higher in the table host four of the seven matches, namely games one, two, five and seven.
The playoffs are referred to as the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with the final round being the Stanley Cup Finals.
Which teams are in the final?
The Vegas Golden Knights and the Florida Panthers will meet in the 2023 Stanley Cup Finals.
The Florida Panthers finished fourth in the Atlantic Division and have the joint-lowest win total of any team who made the playoffs. They eliminated the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 in the last round.
The Vegas Golden Knights fared much better, topping their division and winning 51 matches. They eliminated the Dallas Stars 4-2 in the last round.
Who will win the Stanley Cup Finals?
The Florida Panthers have defied the odds to reach this stage of the playoffs and that's reflected in the odds. They're priced around 7/10 to win the series.
What's particularly exciting about this year's final is neither of these teams have won it all before, so we will have a first-time champion in 2023.
Despite being the last team to quality and having the unenviable task of facing a dominant Boston Bruins, the Panthers somehow prevailed 4-3 after trailing 3-1.
The Golden Knights picked up 111 points in the regular season standing and have enjoyed a fairly routine playoff so far, minus a few small blips in games four and five against Dallas.The standout feature of Florida's play so far and why they've made it to this stage is goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.
He's 11-2 in the postseason with a pretty impressive .935 save percentage and if they're going to beat the Knights, he'll need to match that.
They've also had a knack for doing the small things well and winning by the tightest of margins. They've played in 10 one-goal games and won nine of them, with seven overtime victories to their name.
Matthew Tkachuk has led the way with 21 points so far for Florida, making him the second-highest contributor in the playoffs.
Despite those positives, it's obvious that the Knights are a much deeper group. They have the talent on both ends of the floor and they are the more dangerous offence.
The Knights' leading points scorer is Jack Eichel with 18, but he's closely followed by Jonathan Marchessault with 17, Mark Stone with 15 and Ivan Barbashev with 15.
That illustrates that they can hurt you in a variety of ways and we think they'll have too much strength in depth to lose out to Florida in a seven-game series.