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Lord Stanley's Ticket

NHL News - Spittin' Cap

Two tickets to the Stanley Cup Final are on the line as the war thickens on the ice. Three of the four top seeds are still left remaining as the magic duo of McDavid & Draisaitl have the two-seeded Oilers on the brink of fighting for the Cup for the first time since 2005-06. Who wants it more? With general admission for the Cup opening soon, who will we watch duel for one of sport's most prestigious prizes? The anticipation speeds up my heart beat.

The four remaining teams deliver us a slate of two stellar matchups. All four teams have been to the Conference Finals recently; looking to get over the hump now that they have gotten back for another chance to fight for the Cup. It's right there; right in reaching distance. Stars and Panthers reach the Conference Finals in consecutive seasons. Oilers and Rangers return to the final four where they each came up short in 2021-22. All-four have the same goal in sight; with hopes for a better outcome. Let the battles begin.

ECF - Rangers versus Panthers - NHL Stanley Cup

Both the Panthers and Rangers have felt dangerous during their respected playoff runs, running through their opps with tenacious intent. Panthers conquered through the Lightning then buried the Bruins, yet again makin' their rivalry even more bitter with Boston. Rangers have sliced through their opps in similar success. New York swept the Capitals to charter; then buried the odds favorite, Hurricanes. Now the Panthers and Rangers are prepped for more war as the two clash for the Eastern Conference ticket to the Cup.

I thought Boston would lay-down some revenge after the Panthers gave them the boot in last year's opening round. That wasn't the case; Panthers scrapped and cut open the Bruins to advance in six games. The series was ultra-physical; with major personal bitterness being handled in brunt force ways. We saw some some big-time booms across the series; like this hit-stick that Reinhart took courtesy of Charlie McAvoy:

video via Ben BrownPL//X

Panthers dominated games two and three, then went on to win two nail biters to shut the coffin door. I believe the Panthers are going into the ECF with a scary-scary heatwave of confidence. I can also say the same regarding the Rangers, though. New York started the playoffs 7-0; placing themselves on the verge of back-to-back sweeps prior to the 'Canes takin' two back before meeting their demise. Rangers have scored 3+ goals in each of their playoff games, but one (loss 1-4). Both teams matchup well; as the Metropolitan one seed goes head-to-head with the Atlantic one seed. Although Florida dominated GM-1 with a 3-nil shutout, this series should bring real solid noise. Panthers look to return to the wonderland for the second consecutive season in efforts to claim their first Cup in the franchise's 30-year existence. Rangers look to slay the Panthers for their first Cup appearance since 2013-14. Which Eastern power wants it more?

WCF - Oilers versus Stars- NHL Stanley Cup

Last night began a western shootout that is sure to bring continued noise. Oilers versus Stars. A ticket to the Stanley Cup Final on the line. Dallas is back a year later for a another crack at becoming a four-time Western Conference champion. McDavid & Draisaitl get a second crack at getting Edmonton back to the wonderland... it's a battle of teams who can smell the alloy of Lord Stanley. It's a battle of two teams who can light the lamp in bunches. A pure western shootout is upon us.

Young phenom Wyatt Johnston is thrillin' the stage for the Stars; Oilers on the flipside, have been powered by their star-duo and their regular-season goal leader Zach Hyman. If GM-1 wasn't a prover- this series is going to be epic on the noise meter. Dallas is feeling grateful to have bolstered the D-unit at the trade deadline; if they want a chance at the Cup, they need to stop the Oilers' top line of Nugent-Hopkins, McDavid, and Hyman to get there. That line has been unreal across the playoffs thus far; they each rank in the top-6 in total playoff points- joining teammates Evan Bouchard and Draisaitl. Matthew Tkachuk is the lone non-Oiler to place in the top-6 (5th). Edmonton's best are playing that hot.

After last night's opening game, I am ALL-IN for this series. What a kick-starter to witness these two duke it out in a double-overtime banger. B-grade goalie matchup lookin' to spark to a higher level for the playoff season. A game-changing top line driving head-on into a sharply prepared defense. The game's face starving for a Stanley Cup appearance in year-9. The setting is crisp; the execution should be even more crisp. This is the energy to be had for this epic western shootout to determine who will represent the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup Finals:

video via ROBOHQ//X

ECF - Rangers versus Panthers - NHL Stanley Cup

I was foolish to change my pick to the Bruins over the Panthers, last round. Luckily, I wasn't foolish to do the same on my ESPN Tourney Challenge- and I won't be foolish to go against the cats against New York in the ECF. I have Florida returning to the Cup Final in six games over the Rangers. Panthers are going to be too much to bare; as they have been all playoffs long up to this point.

New York will need Panarin and Kreider to step up their games if they want a chance to prove my prediction wrong. I already know Igor Shesterkin will continue to be on his A-game in the net for New York. If the offense can get back going; then the Rangers have a strong chance. I'm rockin' with the Cats. Hopefully the action improves after a finesse job by the Panthers in GM-1.

WCF - Oilers versus Stars - NHL Stanley Cup

The western shootout is sure to leave some casualties; I got the Rig in seven. McDavid and Draisaitl will finally get to a Cup Final. Won't be easy; just like last round against the Canucks. I'd be shocked if the WCF doesn't go the full slate. Betting against the Oilers is something I have yet to do in this tournament... I'm not going to start just yet.

This prediction is a tad more difficult to make in comparison to the ECF. Dallas outscored the Avs 16-6 in their four dubs; playing well in all facets of the game. Stars also were just in this spot last season= this current team is far more mean than the one that lost to the Golden Knights; who went on to win the Cup last year. It's tough to count the Stars out. They'd prove me wrong two rounds in a row if they beat the Oilers. I still sit comfy with my pick. It's going to be one helluva series. Hop on out of here, go enjoy more playoff hockey, and take a glance at how the bracket looks right now, with my new picks, and the hits and misses from previous rounds:

2024 Stanley Cup Playoff Bracket

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