The battle for the Stanley Cup begins

Alex Ovechkin prepares for a Stanley Cup playoff game. PHOTO COURTESY OF CLYDE / FLICKR

Katelyn Auty
Head Copy Editor
Social Media Editor

The 2024 Stanley Cup playoffs officially began on Saturday, April 20. There are still so many questions left unanswered. Can the Vegas Golden Knights win for the second year in a row? Will the New York Rangers break the Presidents’ Trophy curse? No matter what happens, this postseason is certainly shaping up to be full of fascinating stories. 

First round: Eastern Conference

Florida Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Game 1: 3-2 Panthers
Game 2: 3-2 Panthers
Game 3: April 25, 7 p.m.
Game 4: April 27, 5 p.m.
Game 5: April 29, 1 p.m. (if needed)
Game 6: May 1, 1 p.m. (if needed)
Game 7: May 4, TBD (if needed)

The Panthers and Lightning met three times in the regular season. Of those three games, Florida won two. The Panthers finished the regular season with a record of 52-24-6 with 110 points, earning themselves the third seed in the playoffs. The Lightning finished with a record of 45-29-8 with 98 points, earning the top wildcard spot. I predict Florida will defeat Tampa Bay in six games. I think the Panther’s offense will prove to be too much for the Lightning to handle. 

Boston Bruins vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
Game 1: 5-1 Bruins
Game 2: 3-2 Maple Leafs
Game 3: 4-2 Bruins
Game 4: April 27, 8 p.m.
Game 5: April 30, TBD (if needed)
Game 6: May 2, 3 p.m. (if needed)
Game 7: May 4, 3 p.m. (if needed)

In the four times they met this year, the Bruins beat the Maple Leafs every time. The Bruins finished with a record of 47-20-15, earning the fourth seed in the playoffs. The Maple Leafs finished this regular season with a record of 46-26-10, with 102 points, earning the fifth seed. I predict that Boston will win in seven. This may be the most evenly-matched series in the East, but I think Boston will take lessons learned from last year’s mistakes and defeat Toronto. 

New York Rangers vs. Washington Capitals
Game 1: 4-1 Rangers
Game 2: 4-3 Rangers
Game 3: April 26, 7 p.m.
Game 4: April 28, 8 p.m.
Game 5: May 1, 1 p.m. (if needed)
Game 6: May 3, TBD (if needed)
Game 7: May 5, TBD (if needed)

The Rangers and Capitals met four times in the regular season, both teams going 2-2-0 against the other. The Rangers earned the number one seed and the Presidents’ Trophy this season, ending with a record of 55-23-4 with 114 points. The Capitals ended the season with a record of 40-31-11, earning 91 points and the eighth seed in the playoffs. I predict that the Rangers will win this series in five. The Capitals may win a game, or maybe even two, but there’s no way they’ll be able to defeat the Rangers. 

Carolina Hurricanes vs. New York Islanders
Game 1: 3-1 Hurricanes
Game 2: 5-3 Hurricanes
Game 3: April 25, 7:30 p.m.
Game 4: April 27, 2 p.m.
Game 5: April 30, 1 p.m. (if needed)
Game 6: May 2, TBD (if needed)
Game 7: May 4, TBD (if needed)

The Hurricanes and Islanders met four times in the regular season and the Islanders went 2-1-1. The Hurricanes finished the regular season with a record of 52-23-7 with 111 points, earning them the second seed. The Islanders ended with a record of 39-27-16 with 94 points, earning the sixth seed in the playoffs. I predict that the Hurricanes will take the series in six games. The Islanders are pretty solid, but considering what Carolina has to work with, I don’t think New York can win this.

Western Conference:

Dallas Stars vs. Vegas Golden Knights
Game 1: 4-3 Golden Knights
Game 2: 3-1 Golden Knights
Game 3: April 27, 10:30 p.m.
Game 4: April 29, TBD
Game 5: May 1, 1 p.m. (if needed)
Game 6: May 3, 8 p.m. (if needed)
Game 7: May 5, 8 p.m. (if needed)

The Knights and Stars met three times in the regular season and the Knights won every time. The Stars finished the season with a record of 52-21-9 with 113 points, earning the first seed in the Western Conference. The Knights ended with a record of 45-29-8 with 98 points, earning the eighth seed. I predict Vegas will win in seven games. Even though the Stars have a solid defense, Vegas was last year’s cup winner, and the addition of Thomas Hertl should be enough to push Vegas over the edge. 

Winnipeg Jets vs. Colorado Avalanche
Game 1: 7-6 Jets
Game 2: 5-2 Avalanche
Game 3: April 26, 10 p.m.
Game 4: April 28, 2:30 p.m.
Game 5: April 30, TBD (if needed)
Game 6: May 2, TBD (if needed)
Game 7: May 4, TBD (if needed)

The Jets and Avalanche met three times in the regular season, all of which the Jets won. The Jets finished the season with a record of 52-24-6 and 110 points, earning the second seed. The Avalanche ended the regular season with a record of 50-25-7, earning 107 and the fourth seed. I predict the Avalanche will win in seven games. Even though the Jets had a better regular season, I believe that Colorado has more high-end talent than the Jets. Nathan MacKinnon is one of the best players in the league, but Winnipeg lacks that kind of player in their lineup. 

Vancouver Canucks vs. Nashville Predators
Game 1: 4-2 Canucks
Game 2: 4-1 Predators
Game 3: April 26, 7:30 p.m.
Game 4: April 28, 5 p.m.
Game 5: April 30, TBD (if needed)
Game 6: May 3, TBD (if needed)
Game 7: May 5, TBD (if needed)

The Canucks beat the Predators all three times that they met during the regular season. The Canucks finished the season with a record of 50-23-9 with 109 points, earning the third seed. The Predators had a record of 47-30-5 and 99 points, earning themselves the sixth seed. I predict Vancouver will win in seven games. Nashville has been hot lately after breaking their franchise record for the longest win streak. However, I believe that Vancouver is the better team. The Predators do have an advantage in net, but I don’t believe that difference will be enough for them to win. 

Edmonton Oilers vs. Los Angeles Kings
Game 1: 7-4 Oilers
Game 2: 5-4 Kings
Game 3: April 26, 10:30 p.m.
Game 4: April 28, 10:30 p.m.
Game 5: May 1, TBD (if needed)
Game 6: May 3, 8 p.m. (if needed)
Game 7: May 5, 8 p.m. (if needed)

The Oilers and Kings met four times during the regular season, with the Oilers defeating the Kings three times. The Oilers ended the regular season with a record of 49-27-6, earning 104 points and the fifth seed. The Kings finished the season with a record of 44-27-11 with 99 points, earning the seventh seed. I predict that the Oilers will win in six games. Connor McDavid is the best player in the league, and after the kind of year he had this season, Edmonton is poised for a late run. The Kings enter as the underdog in this matchup, and I think they can hang with Edmonton, but I just don’t think Los Angeles will be able to limit McDavid. 

With exciting matchups across the Eastern and Western conferences, this postseason is certain to be one with some compelling storylines. As the playoffs progress, hockey fans can look forward to thrilling games in the pursuit of the Stanley Cup.