Eastern Conference Matchups Set for 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs – The Hockey Writers – NHL News

After Tuesday’s (April 16) wild evening of NHL action, the matchups for the Eastern Conference were confirmed for the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Dates and times for these matchups will be announced at a later date.

Here are the matchups with a brief look at each.

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Boston Bruins

On Tuesday, the Boston Bruins failed to clinch first place in the Atlantic Division, losing 3-1 to the Ottawa Senators. The Bruins, instead, will finish second in the division after the Florida Panthers defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 on Tuesday.

In overcoming their streak of losing in the first round of the playoffs last season, the Maple Leafs will have to overcome another streak. They have not defeated the Bruins in the playoffs since 1959.

This rivalry has no shortage of storylines, including the epic collapse in Game 7 of the 2013 series when the Maple Leafs gave up a 4-1 lead with just five minutes to go. The two teams also met in both 2018 and 2019, with the Bruins sending the Maple Leafs packing both times.

“Battle of Florida”

The Florida Panthers finished the regular season at 52-24-6 for 110 points. They wrapped up the 82-game slate with one point more than the Bruins and eight points more than the Maple Leafs. The Lightning nabbed the first wild-card spot in the East, finishing fourth in the Atlantic.

The Panthers won the Presidents’ Trophy in 2021-22 – the last time they won the division – but the Lightning swept them in the second round. The Panthers will look to reverse some playoff futility as they have a record of 2-8-0 against the Lightning in the playoffs. The Lightning will look to go deeper in this year’s playoffs after losing in the first round to the Maple Leafs last season.

New York Rangers vs Washington Capitals

The Washington Capitals took the second wild card spot after defeating the Philadelphia Flyers in a game with some interesting storylines. Needing a regulation win to keep their playoffs hopes alive, head coach John Tortorella pulled his goaltender in a tie game with three minutes left in regulation, not knowing that his team had already been eliminated a few minutes earlier when the Detroit Red Wings forced overtime against the Montreal Canadiens.

The Capitals will face the Presidents’ Trophy-winning New York Rangers in the first round, returning to the playoffs after a one-year absence ended their eight-year streak. This will be the 10th playoff meeting between the Metro Division rivals, with the Rangers winning five of the previous nine. That includes the most recent in 2015 when the Rangers rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to win in seven games.

Carolina Hurricanes vs New York Islanders

The New York Islanders are 7-0-1 in their past eight games, erasing their season-long issue of holding onto leads just in time to make the playoffs. Since Patrick Roy took over, he’s overhauled the team’s systems on both ends of the ice, especially on the defensive side. Since he took over, the Islanders have averaged 2.97 goals for and 2.83 against per game. Under Lane Lambert this season, it was 2.89 for and 3.31 against.

The Carolina Hurricanes will finish second in the division with a record of 52-22-7, giving them home-ice advantage for the best-of-7. The division rivals have played each other four times during the 2023-24 season, and each team won two games on the road.

The Hurricanes and Islanders have also played twice in the playoffs. In 2023, the Canes won the series in the Islanders’ house in a Game 6 overtime thriller. In 2019, Carolina swept New York in the second round.

The Hurricanes have won the Stanley Cup once, defeating the Edmonton Oilers in seven games in 2006. The Islanders haven’t won the Cup since winning four straight from 1980-83.

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