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2024 Conference Finals Preview

A look at the third round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs

By Clyde E. DawkinsPublished 27 days ago 4 min read
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I've said this many times before; I always love the final round before the final round. The last stop before the grand finale. In the NFL, it's the Conference Championships. In MLB, it's the League Championship Series. Finally, in the NBA and the NHL, it's the Conference Finals. That's where both leagues are right now, and regarding the NHL, it's the round that will determine who will play for the prestigious Stanley Cup. The NHL has had some intriguing Final Fours in recent years, and this year is no different.

So here's this year's Final Four; the teams who will face off in their respective Conference Finals:

Eastern Conference Final

The Rangers and Panthers last met in the playoffs in 1997

This year's Eastern Conference Final will see the New York Rangers face off against the defending conference champions, the Florida Panthers, and for the Rangers, they are in rarefied air. It's well known that the Presidents' Trophy is, well, cursed. Ask the Panthers themselves. However, the one team who has seem to avoided the curse in the last decade is the Rangers. The Rangers remain the only Presidents' Trophy winner to actually reach the Final Four since this drought began in the 2013-14 season--doing so twice: 2015 and this year. They easily swept the Washington Capitals in the Metropolitan Semifinals, but the Metro Final against the Carolina Hurricanes saw a few hiccups. They went from being on the verge of sweeping the Canes, to facing the slight possibility of a reverse sweep. Luckily for them, Chris Krieder saved the day.

While the Rangers powered their way to the East Final, the Panthers benefitted from an easy path. Last year was different; it was a pure Cinderella run that began with an unexpected comeback that turned into a huge winning stretch. This year, all they've proved is that real, unhampered teams would be Florida's undoing. Yes, the Panthers dismantled the Lightning. Here's the thing: the Avalanche and Maple Leafs did the real dismantling in 2022 and 2023, respectively. So the Panthers met with a Lightning team who was a shell of the team they were. And they beat the Bruins because, well, everyone beats Boston. So Florida hasn't really faced any real competition. They will in this series.

On a side note, this is the fifth straight year, and the eighth time in ten years, that the Sunshine State is represented in the Eastern Conference Final. Florida's become the new Alberta. This is only the second playoff meeting between the clubs; the Rangers won their only other meeting in 1997, doing so with The Great One on their squad.

Western Conference Final

This is the ninth playoff meeting between the Stars and Oilers

Similar to the East series, the Western Conference Final pits a team making their second appearance in three years against a team making their second straight appearance. The Dallas Stars finished as the #1 seed in the West, but their road hasn't been easy. They had to play 13 games to get this far, dethroning the Vegas Golden Knights in a seven-game Central Semifinal, and ousting the Colorado Avalanche in a six-game Central Final. This was done despite a 3-4 home record in the stretch, though they made up for it with a 5-1 road record, plus Jake Oettinger finding his form when Dallas needed him to do so.

The Edmonton Oilers played around with their favorite punching bag, the Los Angeles Kings, but then, there was the real test in the form of the Vancouver Canucks. Unsurprisingly, this was a gritty and hard-fought series, but in the end, the Oilers stood alone with a dominant Game Seven win in Vancouver. For the third straight year, the Oilers are the last Canadian team standing, and now, they look to do something they have yet to do with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl: win a Conference Final game. The Oilers' other appearance with the dynamic duo saw them swept by the Avalanche; in fact, both teams lost their last Final Four appearances to eventual Stanley Cup Champions. Something will give, as one of these teams will advance.

This is the ninth overall playoff meeting between the clubs; dating back to when the Stars were in Minnesota as the North Stars. The Oilers haven't defeated the Stars in the playoffs since upsetting them in 1997.

The Prince of Wales Trophy (left) and the Clarence Campbell Bowl (right)

The Conference Final winners will receive the trophies shown above. The one on the left is the Prince of Wales Trophy, which goes to the Eastern Conference Champions, and the one on the right is the Clarence Campbell Bowl, which goes to the Western Conference Champions. The Rangers are looking to win the Wales Trophy for the first time in 10 years, while the Panthers are looking to win their third overall, and second straight. The Stars are looking to win their fourth Campbell Bowl since moving to Dallas (and fifth overall; they also won it once in Minnesota), while the Oilers are looking to capture the Bowl for the eighth time in franchise history, breaking a tie with the Blackhawks for the most wins.

Of course, there's always that old superstition regarding touching the trophies or not. I do understand it; the goal is not the Wales Trophy or the Campbell Bowl, it's the Stanley Cup. But it doesn't always work. On some years, both teams touch their respective trophies. 2022 was a recent example. Though, the superstition did work last year. The Golden Knights didn't touch the Bowl, while the Panthers skated around with the Wales Trophy.

Since the 2021-22 season, ESPN and Turner Sports have swapped Conference Finals, and regarding this year, Turner will have the West Final, while ESPN will have the East Final. In Canada, both Conference Finals will air on Sportsnet. This is it, the last stop before the Stanley Cup Final, and this will be quite the Final Four this year!

hockey
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About the Creator

Clyde E. Dawkins

I am an avid fan of sports and wrestling, and I've been a fan of female villains since the age of eight. Also into film and TV, especially Simpsons and Family Guy.

Feel free to follow my social media:

Twitter - Facebook - Tiktok - Instagram

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  • Philip Gipson27 days ago

    This preview is very majorly hot!

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