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NHL playoffs look to be best in recent memory

By Brendan Kaufman, Staff Writer

The 2023-2024 NHL regular season has reached its conclusion and the 16 teams that will be entering the playoffs have been decided. The season was filled with unexpected teams rising from poor performances last season and potential dynasties attempting to build themselves up, all leading up to these Stanley Cup playoffs.

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The NHL season as a whole has been a well-received product by fans of the sport. Senior computer science major Felipe De Figueiredo thought this season was one of the most exciting in years.

“Really exciting season,” De Figueiredo stated. “I felt like the playoff race was a lot more interesting than last season and the on-ice product was very enjoyable to watch for the most part. It helped me get more into hockey than I usually do.”

Freshman broadcasting major Mike Voltaggio shares a similar mindset in regard to how the season has played out.

“I think it’s been a very entertaining season,” Voltaggio stated. “I’m going to out myself as a bit of an NHL casual, but from what I’ve watched there’s been a lot of good hockey going on this season.”

The Eastern Conference of the NHL is headed by the New York Rangers, Carolina Hurricanes and New York Islanders as the teams coming out of the Metropolitan division while the Atlantic division sends the Florida Panthers, Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs to the dance. The Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals join these teams as the two wild cards.

De Figueiredo notes the teams most likely to succeed and fail in these playoffs coming up for the east.

“I think the Islanders have a real chance to make a run this season,” he said. “They ended the season on a high note with a big winning streak and it just feels right to say they’ll go deep this season. I can’t say the same for the Toronto Maple Leafs, since I think they’re just going to lose in the first round again. When you get matched up against Boston, that tends to happen.”

Meanwhile, Voltaggio shares his similar thoughts on how the Eastern Conference will play out,

“The Islanders are primed to go for a deep run in these playoffs,” he stated. “They’ve built up a ton of momentum leading up to the playoffs, winning seven of their last eight and I think it’ll all end up paying off with a deep run. As much as I don’t want them to, I think the Rangers are the team that’s most likely to falter in these playoffs. We have a bit of a history of doing that and even though our team looks really good this season, I have a bit of a bad feeling about it.”

On the other side of the league, the Western Conference is sending the Dallas Stars, Winnipeg Jets and Colorado Avalanche from the Central Division while the Pacific Division adds the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings to the mix with the Nashville Predators and Vegas Golden Knights rounding it all out as the wild cards.

Voltaggio believes a certain team from Vancouver will end up catching people off guard whilst not having the highest praise for the highest-seeded team in the Central Division.

“Vancouver seems to be a team with a lot of promise in the west,” he said. “They’ve had a really strong season and I think that’ll translate over to the playoffs really well. On the other hand, I think Dallas is going to fall flat here even though they almost nabbed the president’s trophy at the end there. I don’t see much coming out of that team.”

De Figueiredo offers a differing opinion on the powerhouses of the West.

“The Winnipeg Jets are the team coming out the west for me,” he stated “I don’t have any super concrete evidence or statistics to back that up, but they’ve played well and I think they match up well against the rest of the conference. Unfortunately, the Kings are probably the opposite of them and I think they’re going to struggle in these playoffs compared to everyone else.”

The Stanley Cup Finals will be approaching rapidly as the playoffs progress, with last year’s matchup of the Vegas Golden Knights versus the Florida Panthers still fresh in many fan’s minds. Voltaggio however, thinks that the finals matchup will be much different this year,

“I’ll tell you that I want it to be the Rangers this season,” he said. “You can say whatever other team in the west, it doesn’t matter. The Rangers are going all the way this season.”

De Figueiredo on the other hand, is hoping for a somewhat unexpected matchup in the finals.

“I’m hoping to see a Winnipeg versus Islanders matchup in the finals,” he said. “Those are two teams that I think have a lot of promise and potential to make noise in the playoffs and they also both serve as teams I actually want to see win. Islanders take it in seven.”

The playoffs are well underway and the matchups are starting to heat up on the ice as the best teams in hockey face off for a chance to become Stanley Cup Champions. As the storylines progress and the best teams advance, the Post populace will be rooting for their favorites and watching the best hockey of the year.

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