Stanley Cup Playoffs: A First Look at the Eastern Conference Finals

The conference final round of the 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs is scheduled to begin on May 17. With the two Western Conference series in full swing, we know the identity of the last two teams standing in the East.

Thanks to series wins over the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils, the Carolina Hurricanes are back in the conference final round. After defeating the Presidents Trophy winners Boston Bruins in Round 1 and the Toronto Maple Leafs in Round 2, the Florida Panthers joined them.

To get you up to speed before the Eastern Conference Finals begin, here are the key players to know, the series schedule, notable stats and more.

Eastern Conference Finals


Game 1 (at CAR)
Game 2 (at CAR)
Game 3 (at FLA)
Game 4 (at FLA)
Game 5 (at CAR)*
Game 6 (at FLA)*
Game 7 (at CAR)*

* If required

Leading Playoff Scorers

Hurricanes: C Sebastian Aho (5 G, 5 A, 10 P) | LW Jordan Martinook (3 G, 7 A, 10 P)

Panthers: LW Matthew Tkachuk (5 G, 11 A, 16 P) | C Carter Verhaeghe (5 G, 7 A, 12 P)



OT winner advances to Canes East Finals

The Hurricanes eliminated the Devils in Game 5 with an OT winner by Jesper Faust.

Notes from ESPN Stats & Info

With the Panthers’ Eric Staal and Marc Staal facing off against brother Jordan Staal of the Hurricanes, it will be the seventh time three brothers square off in a series in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Previous Cases:

  • 1992 Division Semifinals: Brent Sutter (CHI) def. Rich and Ron Sutter (STL)

  • 1987 Division Finals: Ron Sutter (PHI) def. Duane and Brent Sutter (NYI)

  • 1985 Division Finals: Ron Sutter (PHI) def. Duane and Brent Sutter (NYI)

  • 1968 Semifinals: Barclay and Bob Plager (STL) def. Bill Pleasure (MIN)

  • 1924 Stanley Cup Semifinals: Bobby and Billy Boucher (MTL) def. Frank Boucher (Vancouver Millionaires)

  • 1924 NHL Final: Bobby and Billy Boucher (MTL) def. George Boucher (OTT)

The Panthers beat a team that scored 43 points and scored 19 more points in the regular season (Boston Bruins) and now face a team that finished with 21 more points than them. The Panthers became the fourth team to face three teams that scored at least 19 points in the regular season.

  • 1981 New York Rangers: Preliminary Round vs. Kings; Quarter Finals Vs. the blues; Lost to the Islanders in the semifinals

  • 1984 Montreal Canadiens: Division Semifinals vs. Bruins; Division Finals vs. The Nordics; Lost the conference finals to the Islanders

  • 1991 Minnesota North Stars: Division Semifinals vs. Blackhawks; Division Finals vs. the blues; Lost the Stanley Cup Final vs. the Penguins

Both the Hurricanes and Panthers are exceptional at stifling opposing offensive attacks when they reach the neutral zone. Per Statelets, where both clubs rank among the playoff teams in these categories:

  • Neutral zone steals per game: Hurricanes 1st | Panthers 3rd

  • Neutral zone pass interceptions per game: Panthers 1st | Hurricanes 2nd

  • Neutral zone deflections causing turnovers per game: Hurricanes 1st | Panthers 2nd

The Hurricanes returned to the Eastern Conference Finals for the fifth time in franchise history. Each of Carolina’s last two times there has been a clean sweep of the series. The Hurricanes’ last win in the Eastern Conference Finals came in Game 7 of the 2006 edition. Carolina won the Stanley Cup that year.

This is the second time the Panthers have reached the Eastern Conference Finals. The previous trip was in 1996, where they defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in seven games, but were swept in the Stanley Cup Final by the Colorado Avalanche.

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