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The NHL 24 playoffs guide: Key players, teams, storylines

The NHL 24 playoffs guide: Key players, teams, storylines

As a service to fans who have a general interest in the National Hockey League but have no idea what’s happened since the Vegas Golden Knights raised the Stanley Cup by defeating the Florida Panthers in June 2023, we’re happy to provide this FAQ as a guide to the 2024 Stanley Cup playoffs.

And for you die-hard puckheads: Here is your official refresher before the games begin Saturday. Enjoy!

How intense was the end of the regular season in the Eastern Conference?

It was “four teams, one open playoff spot” intense, filled with desperation and unfortunate amounts of math.

In the end, the Washington Capitals claimed the final wild-card spot in the East in their season finale by defeating the Philadelphia Flyers, who pulled their goalie in a tie game in the third period because only a regulation win would have kept them alive.

The Caps’ win eliminated the Flyers, the Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins, marking the first time Sidney Crosby has missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons in his legendary career.

For the effort, the Capitals earn a first-round playoff date with the New York Rangers, owners of the NHL’s best record this season.

On the 30th anniversary of their 1994 Stanley Cup win, is this finally the year for the Rangers?

After getting eliminated in the first round last postseason in Game 7 against the New Jersey Devils, changes had to be made for the Rangers. They changed their coach, hiring the well-traveled Peter Laviolette to replace Gerard Gallant, who has proved to be an upgrade.

Star forward Artemi Panarin changed his hair, shaving his angelic locks as a symbolic vibe change that resulted in him setting career highs in goals (49) and points (120). What didn’t change: terrific special teams and dominant goaltending, the bedrock for the Rangers’ 114-point season.

There have been little memorable moments along the way that point to this year being a special one for the Rangers, from their Stadium Series rally against the Islanders to the legend of Matt Rempe.

Rempe, for the uninitiated, is the 6-foot-7 rookie whose chaotic fights made him an instant cult hero for Rangers fans, the likes we haven’t seen since the heyday of Sean Avery. The hard-hitting Rempe, who was suspended four games for elbowing in March, has 71 penalty minutes and 95 minutes played. Only Laviolette knows how much we’ll see of Rempe in the playoffs. If we…

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