COA News 2024


NHL Standings, 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs Round: First Round Series

After a six-month gap, the 2023-2024 NHL regular season is over. Now the fun really begins.

The Stanley Cup playoff field and matchups have been set and the postseason begins Saturday. The Vegas Golden Knights begin their title defense Monday with a rematch of last year’s Western Conference finals.

There are a lot of familiar faces this year, with only three teams not participating in this year’s postseason (Washington, Vancouver, Nashville). The first round features three playoff rematches from last year, but there are even more matchups of teams with recent postseason history – including the third edition of the Battle of Florida in the past four seasons.

Here’s the quick scoop on every first-round series in the NHL playoffs:

Eastern Conference

New York Rangers (Metro 1) vs. Washington Capitals (Wild Card 2)

Recordings: Rangers (55-23-4, 114 points); Capitals (40-31-11, 91 points)

Game 1: Sunday, 3pm ET, ESPN

The Rangers won the Presidents’ Trophy this season as the best team in the league, while the Capitals snuck into the postseason with the worst goal differential of a playoff team in decades (-37). The Rangers had five players record more points than the Capitals’ leading scorer (Dylan Strome, 67 points), including Artemi Panarin, who finished fourth in the league with 120 points. On paper it’s a mismatch, but the Capitals have one of the league’s most underrated goaltenders in Charlie Lindgren and a core that has a lot of playoff experience. There’s no love lost between these franchises that have split their season series.

Carolina Hurricanes (Metro 2) vs. New York Islanders (Metro 3)

Facts: Hurricanes (52-23-7, 111 points); Islanders (39-27-16, 94 points)

Game 1: Saturday, 5pm ET, TBS

The Hurricanes and Islanders will meet in the first round for the second year in a row. Carolina, which scored more than 110 points for the third consecutive season, made a rare appearance at the trade deadline in an effort to finally break through to the Stanley Cup Final. The biggest name the Hurricanes brought in was Jake Guentzel, a proven playoff performer from the Pittsburgh Penguins, and he fits in well with 25 points in 17 games. The Islanders won 10 of their last 13 games to reach the playoffs. They made a coaching change mid-season and brought in Patrick Roy.

Florida Panthers (Atlantic 1) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (Wild Card 1)

Facts: Panthers (52-24-6, 110 points); Lightning (45-29-8, 98 points)

Game 1: Sunday, 12:30pm ET, ESPN

The Lightning routed their domestic rival to the Stanley Cup Final in 2021 and 2022. But the Panthers are the defending Eastern Conference champions and have home ice after winning the division. The Lightning have three scorers with 40 goals, including NHL points leader Nikita Kucherov (144 points). The Panthers have the NHL’s second leading scorer in Sam Reinhart (57 goals) and plenty of tenacity with Matthew Tkachuk leading the way. There could be a lot of fireworks in this.

Boston Bruins (Atlantic 2) vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (Atlantic 3)

Facts: Bruins (47-20-15, 109 points); Maple Leaves (46-26-10, 102 points)

Game 1: Saturday, 8pm ET, TBS

The Bruins and Maple Leafs will meet in the playoffs for the third time in seven seasons. While the key pieces in Toronto are largely the same as those from the 2018 and 2019 games, highlighted by 69-goal scorer Auston Matthews, the Bruins no longer have regulars Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara, who led the Leafs in recent seasons caused many problems. Boston, which dropped the final two games of the regular season to wrest away the division title, still has one of the game’s best offensive players in David Pastrnak (110 points, fifth in the NHL), solid defensive depth and the best goalkeeper tandem in the league. the competition.

Western Conference

Dallas Stars (Central 1) vs. Vegas Golden Knights (Wild Card 2)

Facts: Stars (52-21-9, 113 points); Golden Knights (45-29-8, 98 points)

Game 1: Monday, 9:30pm ET, ESPN

These teams competed in the Western Conference finals last season, but this year one will go home early. The Stars have impressive balance, with nine players recording at least 50 points. They strengthened their blueline before the deadline, signing Chris Tanev. Goalkeeper Jake Oettinger’s numbers dipped this season, although he finished strongly. Vegas did what Vegas does at the trade deadline: He made big moves for defenseman Noah Hanifin and forward Tomas Hertl. These moves were of course made possible in part by another serious injury to captain Mark Stone. Will the heart and soul of the Golden Knights be able to return for the playoffs?

Winnipeg Jets (Central 2) vs. Colorado Avalanche (Central 3)

Facts: Jets (52-24-6, 110 points); Avalanche (50-25-7, 107 points)

Game 1: Sunday, 7pm ET, ESPN 2

This is a classic strength versus strength series. The Avalanche are the NHL’s best offense, with likely MVP Nathan MacKinnon (140 points) leading the way. The Jets have the NHL’s best defense, backed by Connor Hellebuyck, who will likely receive the Vezina Trophy for best goaltender again. Which one wins?

Vancouver Canucks (Pacific 1) vs. Nashville Predators (Wild Card 1)

Facts: Canucks (50-23-9, 109 points); Predators (47-30-5, 99 points)

Game 1: Sunday, 10pm ET, ESPN

These teams are both playoff newcomers this year. The Canucks came out of the gates and have been largely on their way to their first division title since 2013. They bring a potent combination of quality offensive skills (JT Miller, defenseman Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson all scored 89 points) and strong goaltending with the recently answered Thatcher Demko. The Predators’ return to the postseason was far from assured until they snapped an 18-game streak without a regulation loss that stretched through late February and most of March — after management canceled a planned trip to see U2 at The Sphere in Las Vegas. Nashville was handed a career season without forward Filip Forsberg (48 goals, 94 points) and another standout campaign from captain Roman Josi (85 points).

Edmonton Oilers (Pacific 2) vs. Los Angeles Kings (Pacific 3)

Facts: Oilers (49-27-6, 104 points); Kings (44-27-11, 99 points)

Game 1: Monday, 10pm ET, ESPN2

For the third year in a row, the Oilers and Kings will face each other in the first round. It’s been a fascinating season for the Oilers. A brutal 3-9-1 start saw coach Jay Woodcroft fired and the team turning to Kris Knoblauch behind the bench. They rolled the rest of the way to a 46-18-5 mark, highlighted by a 16-game winning streak. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are on the shortlist of the best players in the world, but there is pressure to win when both stars are in their prime. The Kings started hot and then cooled off considerably to the point that coach Todd McLellan was fired during the All-Star break. Jim Hiller took over and managed to steady the ship enough to get LA back to the playoffs. Can the Kings pull off the upset and earn their first playoff series win in 10 years? They are strong defensively (third in goals against), but their attack is middle of the pack. It would be a good time for Pierre-Luc Dubois to come alive after a very disappointing first season in LA