Article content

The Edmonton Oilers visit the Dallas Stars to open the Western Conference final, and the Florida Panthers have an early lead over the New York Rangers in the East.

Here are five things to know entering Thursday’s post-season action:

Article content


What happens when two of the NHL’s best players meet one of the deepest teams in the league? We’re about to find out.

Article content

Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and the Oilers take on a rock-solid Stars team in Game 1 of the West final tonight in Dallas. Edmonton beat Los Angeles and Vancouver en route to the third round while Dallas dispatched Vegas and Colorado, the two reigning Stanley Cup champions.

The Stars and Oilers were the best two teams in the Western Conference after Jan. 1 this season.

Oilers standouts Draisaitl, McDavid, Evan Bouchard and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are the NHL’s top four point-getters so far these playoffs with a power play clicking at 37.5 per cent. Meanwhile, Dallas boasts a forward group with young talents Wyatt Johnston and Jason Robertson alongside veterans Matt Duchene and Joe Pavelski. Miro Heiskanen leads the defence and all-star goalie Jake Oettinger is in net.


The Oilers are the first team in NHL history with three players who produced 20 or more points through the first two rounds of the playoffs. Draisaitl leads the way with 24 points, followed by 21 from McDavid and 20 for Bouchard, all in 12 games.

Bouchard is the first defenceman in league history to reach the 20-point mark in two rounds. Draisaitl is on a 12-game point streak to open the playoffs.

Article content


The Oilers and Stars are facing off in a playoff series for the first time in two decades, but historically speaking these are familiar foes.

It’s the ninth series between the two franchises. In 1997, an underdog Oilers team upset the Stars for a 4-3 series win in the first round despite finishing 23 points below Dallas in the regular-season standings.

Dallas, however, holds a 6-2 edge over Edmonton in head-to-head matchups thanks to a string of five straight Stars victories from 1998 to 2003. The Stars swept the Oilers in the first round in 1999 en route to winning their only Stanley Cup in franchise history.


The Panthers are one step closer to another trip to the Stanley Cup final after a 3-0 win over the Rangers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final.

Florida netminder Sergei Bobrovsky outdueled fellow Russian goalie Igor Shesterskin with a 23-save shutout to earn the win in New York. Florida swept the Carolina Hurricanes in the East final last year before falling to Vegas in the Cup final.


Rangers forward Alexis Lafreniere scored with New York trailing late, only it was into his own net.

Panthers forward Carter Verhaeghe centred the puck into the slot before a backchecking Lafreniere accidentally tipped it between Shesterkin’s pads. The goal, awarded to Verhaeghe, put Florida up 2-0 with 3:48 remaining to dampen the odds of a Rangers comeback.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 23, 2024.

Share this article in your social network

Source link