Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

As the Stanley Cup playoffs approach, teams begin to clinch their spots

2024+Stanley+Cup+playoffs
Hailey Akau
Illustration Hailey Akau

The National Hockey League playoffs are right around the corner! The regular season will end on April 18, with playoffs scheduled to begin April 20. Only 16 out of the 32 league teams will compete for the ultimate prize: The Stanley Cup. 

These seven teams have already clinched their spots in the playoffs: 

New York Rangers

On Tuesday, March 26, the Rangers became the first team to secure a spot in the offseason after defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 6-5 in overtime. Rangers’ defenseman Adam Fox scored 36 seconds into the overtime period. Alexis Lafreniere scored two goals and goaltender Igor Shesterkin made 36 saves for the Rangers. 

“For us to stay as consistent as we have says a lot about our group,” Fox told ESPN in an interview. “It’s big for us to clinch that playoff spot. It’s just the first step.”

Dallas Stars

The Stars earned a spot in the playoffs on Thursday, March 28, after winning 3-1 against the Vancouver Canucks. The Stars’ goaltender Jake Oettinger made 27 saves during the game, which helped the Stars secure a spot in the playoffs for the third season in a row.

“It’s what we worked all year for and obviously we went on a run last year, and we know how important getting those home games is,” Oettinger told NHL.com. “So that’s what we’re playing for right now and trying to get our game to the level we played it to tonight for the rest of the season.”

Boston Bruins

The Bruins could have clinched their playoff spot on Wednesday, March 26, had they earned a single point when they played the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning beat the Bruins 3-1, but thanks to a loss to the Montreal Canadiens by the Flyers on Thursday, March 27, the B’s clinched their playoff spot. 

“To be honest, we knew we were going to be in the playoffs for a while, probably since All-Star break,” Bruins Head Coach Jim Montgomery told NHL.com. “For us, it’s more about battling for positioning right now and getting into the playoffs, most importantly, playing the right way.”

Carolina Hurricanes

The Hurricanes won 4-0 against the Detroit Red Wings also on Thursday, March 28, securing their playoff spot. “Canes” center Sebastian Aho and right wing Seth Jarvis each scored a goal and had two assists. Goaltender Frederik Andersen made 24 saves and posted a shutout for the Hurricanes.

“It’s almost unfortunate that it gets overlooked a little because of where we sit,” Hurricanes Coach Rod Brind’Amour told the Associated Press. “You forget how hard that is to accomplish, and to do it with however many games left. I didn’t even think about it because it has been a foregone conclusion.”

Vancouver Canucks

The Canucks were the seventh team to clinch their playoff spot, thanks to losses from both the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues. For the first time since 2020, the Canucks will compete for the Stanley Cup and are expected to utilize their home-ice advantage for the first round. 

“I think I downplayed it just because of how good of a year it’s been,” Canucks captain Quinn Hughes told NHL.com. “We’ve expected to be there the last month or two, whatever it’s been. I got a couple of text messages last night saying congrats and whatnot. It does mean a lot, especially with how the last couple of years have been.”

Colorado Avalanche

The Avalanche secured their playoff spot on Saturday, March 30, after defeating the Nashville Predators 7-4. Center Nathan MacKinnon scored two goals and had two assists. Yakov Trenin, Cale Makar, Jonathan Drouin, Casey Mittelstadt, and Artturi Lehkonen all scored one as well.

“That’s the goal, right?” Avalanche Head Coach Jared Bednar told the Associated Press. “Getting to the playoffs, give yourself a chance. It just shows the dedication, the hard work that all the guys are putting into every season and trying to keep improving from the season before. Yep, feels good.”

Florida Panthers

The Panthers clinched their playoff spot on Thursday, March 28, after the Detroit Red Wings lost to the Carolina Hurricanes, and after they lost 3-2 to the New York Islanders. 

“But anytime you see that, you have to look back on the accomplishments of the year and the accomplishment of making the playoffs is no easy task. We had a stretch here where it was extremely difficult. The buy-in in the system and the guys in this room deserve to enjoy a little bit of that credit,” Panthers’ defenseman Aaron Ekblad told NHL.com

According to the NHL’s Athletic.com, the Carolina Hurricanes, Edmonton Oilers, and Dallas Stars are among the favorites to win the coveted Stanley Cup this year. The Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, Dallas Stars, and Vancouver Canucks are hoping to win their division championships. While there is still time to clinch a playoff spot, possible first-round matchups include the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings, and Dallas Stars and Los Angeles Kings.

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About the Contributor
Rylie Burns
Rylie Burns, Layout Editor & Assistant Sports Editor
Rylie Burns (she/her) is a freshman journalism major from Danvers, MA, and currently serves as the layout editor for the Berkeley Beacon. Rylie wrote for her high school newspaper and served as editor-in-chief of the yearbook. She is also an active participant in WEBN both on and off the camera. Other than reporting, Rylie enjoys dancing, choreographing, reading, and looking at pictures of her goldendoodle, Brodie.

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