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The school news site of Lewisville High School

Farmers' Harvest

The school news site of Lewisville High School

Farmers' Harvest

Rivalries, parity and pucks

Previewing every team’s chances in the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Ruben Plascencia

It started in October with a generational rookie named Connor Bedard. Over time, it became the renaissance of the Vancouver Canucks and Philadelphia Flyers, the impressive streaks by the Edmonton Oilers and Nashville Predators, and the milestone chases by Auston Matthews, Connor McDavid and Alex Ovechkin, just to name a few. Now, the top 16 teams are headed to the 2024 Stanley Cup Finals. Here’s how they stack up. 


The Contenders: Carolina Hurricanes, Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, New York Rangers, Winnipeg Jets

The Panthers’ (52-24-6, Atlantic Division champion) and Jets’ (52-24-6, second in Central Division) reason for success is nearly the same: top goaltenders in Sergei Bobrovsky and Connor Hellebuyck respectively allowing talented rosters to thrive in the offensive zone. The Cats were Presidents’ Trophy (best record) winners in 2022 and surprise conference champions in 2023, proving the talent and poise of a physical team in a championship window. Meanwhile, Hellebuyck’s stamina is unmatched and Laurent Brossoit is an excellent backup, with the duo combining for a league-best 199 goals allowed (Panthers second with 200). Winnipeg is also undefeated through eight games in April, including shutout wins over Dallas (3-0) and Colorado (7-0). 

The Rangers (55-23-4, Metropolitan Division champion), and Stars (52-21-9, Central Division champion) are top seeds in their respective conferences, with New York winning the Presidents’ Trophy at 114 standings points. No Presidents’ Trophy winner has reached the finals since 2013, but if forward Artemi Panarin and a star-powered Rangers team keeps overwhelming opponents while goalie Igor Shesterkin performs well in net, the Rangers could break the trend. Dallas, meanwhile, is widely considered the most complete roster in the NHL thanks to 2023 Jim Gregory Award (best general manager) recipient Jim Nill. Forward Matt Duchene and defenseman Chris Tanev were great acquisitions for a league semifinalist and forward Logan Stankoven has been special in his first 23 NHL games. 

The Hurricanes (52-23-7, second in Metropolitan Division) and Oilers (49-27-6, second in Pacific Division) have recently been among betting favorites, but since meeting in the 2006 Stanley Cup Final, neither has been back. Connor McDavid is the NHL’s best player, becoming the fourth in NHL history with 100 assists in a season, helping facilitate other offensive greats like Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and the breakout Zach Hyman. Carolina’s forwards Sebastian Aho, Seth Jarvis, and defensemen Brent Burns and Dmitry Orlov had them as Cup contenders in the preseason, and the addition of forward Jake Guentzel at the trade deadline has seemingly tied it all together. 

The Challengers: Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Nashville Predators, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Vegas Golden Knights 

The Bruins (47-20-15, second in Atlantic Division) were left for dead after their historic 65-win 2023 season ended in the first round and resulted in an exodus of star players. They responded greatly, finishing the season one point from a second consecutive division title. Goalies Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman are all-NHL talents, equal to David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand leading the way on offense. 

The Maple Leafs (46-26-10, third in Atlantic Division) are loaded with talent, headlined by forwards Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and John Tavares. They added forwards Max Domi, Tyler Bertuzzi and defensemen John Klingeberg and Ilya Lubushkin to form an even stronger skating group, helping a rotational goalie unit led by Ilya Samsonov. Matthews fell one goal short of 70, and that’s the story for Toronto: they’ve fallen short of Cup No. 14 since 1967. 

A Stanley Cup title for Tampa Bay (45-29-8, east first wild card) would be its third in four years, dynasty status. Plenty of contributors to their 2021 and 2022 championships haven’t moved. The gamechangers are forward Nikita Kucherov and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. The first became the fifth player in history to 100 single-season assists, leads the league in points with 144, and is the Hart Trophy (Most Valuable Player) favorite. The second is still considered a force of a goalie in the playoffs. If the Lightning upset Florida, they could be home free. 

Forward Nathan MacKinnon’s 138 point season would make him the MVP if it weren’t for Kucherov, and it might still do so, depending on how Colorado (50-25-7, third in Central Division) and Tampa’s playoffs go. Behind MacKinnon, forward Mikko Rantanen and defenseman Cale Makar are putting up career highs, and with a deeper run, captain Gabriel Landeskog might return to the ice. The biggest question mark is goalie Alexandar Georgiev, who has struggled as of late. 

A 16-0-2 run from Feb. 17 to March 26 is what revived the Predators (47-30-5 west first wild card), and stabilized star goaltender Juuse Saros. The biggest names are forward Peter Forsberg and defenseman Roman Josi, but Nashville needed all hands on deck to reach the playoffs. Now, they’re tasked with using that momentum to upset Vancouver. 

The Canucks (50-23-9, Pacific Division champion) stormed the NHL to start the season, thanks in part to career years by defenseman Quinn Hughes and forward J.T. Miller as well as great seasons from forwards Elias Petterson and Brock Boesser to name a few. Thatcher Demko slots in behind Hellebuyck and Bobrovsky as top NHL goalies, and since returning from injury, has helped maintain the success, the division crown, and the hunger for Vancouver’s first ever Cup. 

Vegas (45-29-8, west second wild card) retained a majority of last season’s championship roster to go for back-to-back Cup wins. An injury to captain Mark Stone among others worked in the team’s favor by allowing them to trade for forward Tomas Hertl and defenseman Noah Hanifin, two of the best players available at the deadline. Stone is now close to a return, and though the second wild card isn’t as strong as last season’s spot atop the Western Conference, the Golden Knights themselves haven’t gotten any worse. A conference final rematch awaits in round one against a Dallas team seeking revenge. 

The Longshots: New York Islanders, Washington Capitals, Los Angeles Kings

It’s a harsh truth that these rosters simply don’t match up with the rest of the field. The Islanders (39-27-16, third in Metropolitan Division) are the only playoff team under 40 wins, while the Capitals (40-30-11, east second wild card) stumble into the playoffs with a -37 goal differential. Los Angeles (44-27-11, third in Pacific Division) has a well-rounded roster and good goaltending in Cam Talbot and David Rittich, but is it enough to stop the Oilers’ offense? New York playing Carolina and Washington facing the Rangers is equally grim, but stranger things have happened. 

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