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Sunday, May 19, 2024

NHL playoffs 2024: Rating each first-round sequence by leisure worth

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Saturday marks the beginning of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and as soon as the motion will get underway, it will not cease till a champion is topped in June. For now, hockey followers can get pleasure from a feast of first-round motion, which implies a number of video games day-after-day for the subsequent two weeks.

With a dizzying quantity of playoff video games on the schedule, it may be exhausting to know which matchups to prioritize. That is the place I’ll do my greatest to assist by rating every first-round sequence by leisure worth. That approach, while you’re coping with much less necessary issues like household, pals or work, you may know which video games you would possibly have the ability to skip and which of them you completely can not miss.

When compiling this listing, I attempted to go together with a gut-based strategy that factored in storylines, star energy, play model, rivalries and the potential for the sequence to go the gap. With so many intriguing matchups, sorting them right into a definitive rating wasn’t straightforward, however I managed to tug it off.

Earlier than we dive in, I need to be very clear. All playoff hockey is sweet hockey, and it’s best to watch each sport of each sequence as a result of the season will probably be over earlier than we all know it. Cherish what now we have left of the NHL motion.

That stated, if you cannot spend each minute of day-after-day watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs, right here is each sequence ranked by its leisure worth.

8. Carolina Hurricanes vs. New York Islanders

If the Hurricanes have been taking part in every other staff, this matchup would most likely be greater. Carolina is a Cup contender, and it is a enjoyable staff to look at. Nevertheless, we have seen this matchup a pair instances in current seasons, and I do not really want to see way more of it. It is not simply that the sequence appears to be fairly uneven on paper. It is also about play model. Since Patrick Roy took over behind the Isles’ bench, they’ve improved defensively. That is nice for the Islanders however dangerous for the back-and-forth observe meets that occurred underneath former head coach Lane Lambert. This matchup simply lacks a few of the juice current in different first-round sequence.

7. New York Rangers vs. Washington Capitals

The Presidents’ Trophy winners are taking over what is perhaps the worst NHL playoff staff ever — no less than within the fashionable period. That will usually make this the least compelling matchup of the primary spherical, however it’s barely elevated due to some various factors. For starters, I’ve a morbid curiosity about how a staff with a minus-37 aim differential will fare within the playoffs. Secondly, I am unsure what number of extra instances I will get to see Alex Ovechkin within the postseason, so I have to cherish this chance. Lastly, the Rangers are loaded up entrance, and an offensive explosion is rarely distant.

6. Edmonton Oilers vs. Los Angeles Kings

The NHL script writers really want to give you some new materials. These groups have met within the first spherical every of the final two postseasons, and the sequence have performed out in very comparable style. The Kings are capable of do an honest job containing the Oilers weapons early, however the dam finally breaks, and Edmonton goes on to win the sequence. Nothing concerning the 2024 version of this matchup signifies that issues will go any in a different way this time round. I’ll say, will probably be intriguing to look at Pierre-Luc Dubois within the playoffs. In his first season with the Kings, Dubois has been a disappointment, however he can wash all that away with a giant sequence in opposition to the Oilers. Dubois has proven the flexibility to raise his sport within the postseason earlier than (see: Blue Jackets vs. Lightning, circa 2019).

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5. Vancouver Canucks vs. Nashville Predators

The Norris Trophy votes have already been solid, however this sequence will enable Quinn Hughes and Roman Josi to settle it on the ice within the postseason. Hughes and Josi have been the 2 greatest defensemen within the NHL all season, and they’re going to headline this first-round matchup. It also needs to be famous that the 2 principal Jack Adams Award candidates — Rick Tocchet and Andrew Brunette — are behind the bench on this matchup. Perhaps the NHL ought to simply let voters watch this sequence earlier than submitting their ballots. Add within the goaltending battle between Thatcher Demko and Juuse Saros, and this must be a enjoyable conflict. This can be No. 5, however it’s a lower above the underside three on the listing.

4. Florida Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

The Battle of Florida has shortly shot up the charts as top-of-the-line rivalries within the NHL, and one other chapter will probably be written over the subsequent couple of weeks. One of many issues that makes it so nice is the vitriol. These two groups don’t like one another, and I anticipate quite a lot of shenanigans after the whistle. Along with the overall seething hatred on each side, there will probably be stars all around the ice. Nikita Kucherov simply totaled 100 assists to go together with his 44 targets. Steven Stamkos is perhaps taking part in his final season as a member of the Lightning. Andrei Vasilevskiy is borderline unbeatable when he is at his greatest. For the Panthers, Matthew Tkachuk hopes to supply an encore efficiency for final season’s playoff run. Aleksander Barkov might be the perfect defensive ahead within the sport in the present day. Sam Reinhart loves scoring targets, and he can not cease doing it. I can not wait to see how this matchup performs out.

3. Winnipeg Jets vs. Colorado Avalanche

Now we’re entering into the sequence which have some critical Recreation 7 potential. The Jets and Avalanche go about their enterprise somewhat bit in a different way, however there are causes to imagine this matchup might go both approach. The Avalanche have Nathan MacKinnon, recent off a Hart Trophy marketing campaign by which he put up 140 factors whereas dominating play at five-on-five. Colorado additionally has bona fide superstars in Mikko Rantanen and Cale Makar. The Jets could not have the ability to match up in that regard, however what they lack in marquee names they make up for in depth and elite goaltending. Connor Hellebuyck will doubtless be the 2024 Vezina Trophy winner, and Winnipeg has the flexibility to roll 4 traces and are available on the Avs in waves. It will be fascinating to see these two completely different approaches go head-to-head, and there is a good likelihood tempers flare because the sequence evolves.

2. Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Boston Bruins

We have seen this playoff matchup loads of instances earlier than, however I do not care. The historical past between these golf equipment solely provides to the leisure worth. How shut will Charlie Brown get to kicking the soccer earlier than Lucy pulls it away? Will this lastly be the time that Charlie boots it from underneath Lucy’s finger? The Maple Leafs have the massive names. They’ve a 69-goal-scorer in Auston Matthews. They’ve dynamic playmakers in William Nylander and Mitch Marner. Sadly for Toronto followers, that hasn’t mattered in previous years. The Maple Leafs have not crushed the Bruins within the postseason since 1959, and there have been six conferences since then. Avoiding seven straight playoff sequence losses to Boston will probably be robust. Bruins star David Pastrnak is on the prime of his sport, and their goaltending tandem is nearly as good because it will get. That stated, I do suppose the Leafs have the sting right here. Can they lastly get this bear off their again?

1. Dallas Stars vs. Vegas Golden Knights

Playoff matchups do not get higher than this, and I am not simply speaking about first-round sequence. Convention finals. Stanley Cup Remaining. Does not matter. It is a heavyweight combat between two Stanley Cup contenders, and certainly one of them will probably be {golfing} by the point the second spherical begins. How about that for stakes? The Stars, maybe the deepest staff within the NHL, spent all 12 months working their rear ends off to get the highest seed within the West. That earned them a date with the Golden Knights, the defending champs and one of many solely groups with the depth to rival that of the Stars. To make issues even spicier, Vegas eradicated Dallas within the Western Convention Finals final season earlier than happening to carry the Cup. Since then, each groups have aggressively upgraded their rosters. The Stars have introduced Matt Duchene and Chris Tanev into the fold, giving them a lift at each ends of the ice. The Golden Knights have countered with acquisitions of Tomas Hertl and Noah Hanifin. The winner of this matchup will get a well-earned confidence increase heading into the convention semifinals.

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