The Florida Panthers have swept the Carolina Hurricanes in four games to win the Eastern Conference side of the bracket and will be going to the Final.

This marks the third time in a row the Hurricanes have been swept in the Conference Finals since winning the Cup in 2007. The other two opponents that swept the Canes in the third round were Pittsburgh in 2009 and Boston in 2019, both of whom lost in the Final.

Game 4 saw the Panthers go out to an early lead, the Hurricanes fight back to tie it with a few minutes to go. But with Jordan Staal in the penalty box, it was a power play goal from Matthew Tkachuk with five seconds left on the clock that won the series for the Panthers with a degree of abruptness only the 2023 playoffs could muster.

While Tkachuk might be making the headlines, I do need to point out one statistic: the Panthers (Sergei Bobrovsky) have allowed only 43 goals on 63 expected. That is entirely why they – and the Hurricanes who were also -18 in goals vs expected this playoffs – have made it this far. The offense is what you would expect, and frankly a little under expectations, and Tkachuk has disappeared for a lot of the tournament. It's goaltending, folks.

To add insult to injury at the end of the season, Sam Bennett laid this dirty hit on Slavin. I call it dirty because it wasn't a hockey play. He was looking for a head and he found it.

On one hand, positivity is good. On the other, it's easy to be positive when you've won 11 of your last 12 games and are in the Finals.

Various Leafs and Branches

This award is voted on in the middle of the playoffs, it is the only reason Bill Zito got any recognition for his team. That said, he has the best case to win the award because of the Tkachuk trade. Don Sweeney got the legacy votes for creating "the best regular season team in history" even though the Bruins folded like a wet sock in the first round and Sweeney got duped into signing Mitchell Miller. He still hasn't figured out how to get rid of him, by the way. Who's the third guy? Signed Jason Robertson to a late bridge contract.

I think Richard Peddie went on the radio to talk about fiscal responsibility in MLSE? I don't really know what his goal was. Curious to get your thoughts in the comments.

Yeah, sure, just rip the skin off with the band-aid.

Jamie Benn got two games for his vicious cross-check in Game 3. It is once again way too lenient from DOPS, if you can even call it player safety.

Here's something you might be reminded of every few years but forget immediately. The NHL runs disciplinary oversight during the Memorial Cup. This recently came up because they reduced Owen Beck's two-game suspension for slew-footing down to one game.

Andrew Shaw is doing what we call "blaming the victim."

Another class-action lawsuit for hazing has been filed against the CHL.

I just realized Ron McLean has tried to be this version of Alex Trebek for 30 years and he's never once gotten it right.