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How to watch and what to expect in the 2024 Stanley Cup playoffs

The chase for the Stanley Cup is down to eight teams left in the NHL playoffs , all among the best the league has to offer. The eight remaining in the second round were among the top nine in the regular-season standings.
New York Rangers fans cheer the team on following a goal during the first period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series against the Carolina Hurricanes, Sunday, May 5, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

The chase for the Stanley Cup is down to eight teams left in the NHL playoffs, all among the best the league has to offer.

The eight remaining in the second round were among the top nine in the regular-season standings. A new winner is also guaranteed after defending champion Vegas was eliminated by Western Conference top-seeded Dallas in the tightest opening-round series.

Florida, which reached the final last year, and Edmonton, led by three-time and reigning MVP Connor McDavid and German star Leon Draisaitl, are the co-favorites on BetMGM Sportsbook to hoist the Cup, followed by Carolina, Dallas and the New York Rangers.

After the team favored to win each first round series did, this remains one of the most wide open postseasons in recent hockey history. Everyone left standing has a chance to win it all, with plenty of new blood: Colorado (2022) is the only one with a title over the past 12 seasons.


In the East: the New York Rangers vs. the Carolina Hurricanes and the Florida Panthers vs. the Boston Bruins. New York swept Washington; Carolina beat the Islanders in five; Florida beat Tampa Bay in five and Boston nearly blew a 3-1 lead before eliminating Toronto in seven.

In the West: the Dallas Stars vs. the Colorado Avalanche and the Vancouver Canucks vs. the Edmonton Oilers. Dallas beat Vegas in seven; Colorad rebounded from a crazy Game 1 to beat Winnipeg in five; Vancouver beat Nashville in six and Edmonton beat Los Angeles in five, the third consecutive season the Kings have been knocked out in the first round by the Oilers.


Every game of the Stanley Cup playoffs is televised nationally in the U.S. and Canada and available on streaming platforms. The NHL schedule is here and a streaming guide is here. Games are carried in the U.S. on an ABC, ESPN, TNT or TBS and in Canada on CBC or Sportsnet in English and TVA Sports in French.


McDavid, widely considered the best hockey player in the world, leads all players with 12 points through the first round, followed closely by Draisaitl with 10, including two game-winning goals. McDavid is coming off becoming just the fifth player in NHL history to record 100 assists in a season.

Rangers center Vincent Trocheck has arguably been one of the most dominant players early, and he and his teammates look like legitimate Cup contenders thanks in large part to goaltender Igor Shesterkin, who stopped 94 of the 101 shots he faced against the Capitals. Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon, the front-runner to succeed McDavid as the Hart Trophy winner, has also found peak playoff form already with nine points through five games.

While McDavid, Draisaitl and MacKinnon are in their primes, there are plenty of old guys to root for who haven't yet won the Cup, from Dallas' Joe Pavelski to Carolina's Brent Burns and Colorado's Zach Parise.


The betting favorites (in order) to win the Stanley Cup are Florida and Edmonton at 9-2, and Carolina, Dallas and New York at 11-2, according to BetMGM Sportsbook.


After the playoffs began April 20 and the second round started Sunday, the final is set to start in early June. If it goes the distance, Game 7 could go as late as June 24.


Scoring creativity hasn't stopped now that the playoffs are here, with a handful of goals being scored off the masks of goaltenders. It's an art form shooters are continuing to refine to put the puck in the net at the most difficult time of year to do so.

While Alex Ovechkin was held without a point in a series for the first time in his nearly two-decade career in North America, many fellow Russians are starring this postseason, from the Rangers' Shesterkin and Artemi Panarin to Carolina's Andrei Svechnikov and Colorado's Valeri Nichushkin.

The Hurricanes have won a round for a sixth consecutive season under coach Rod Brind'Amour, their 2006 Cup-winning captain who has created a winning culture. He's also a potential free agent this summer, and with several vacancies around the league, his contract status has become quite the talking point.

Dallas, the top seed in the West, vanquished the Golden Knights with a mix of veterans and young players clicking at the right time. The Stars face a second-round challenge from the Avalanche, the highest-scoring team in the playoffs at more than 5.5 goals a game.

Buildings are full to the brim all over the continent from Boston to South Florida to Denver and Vancouver after a new record for attendance and fans filling arenas to 97% of capacity this season. It's another result of the NHL's booming business.

Fans who like fights on the ice have watched the brawls dwindle in recent years and they are a rarity in the postseason. Like tradition? Rest easy: The NHL has no plans to change its 16-team playoff format.


This story has been corrected to show McDavid is the fifth player to record 100 assists in a season. Not the fifth to record 100 points in a season.



The Associated Press

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