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2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs Begin on April 20



Stanley Cup 2024. All participants in the NHL playoffs for the 2023-24  season | Dailysports

During ABC's coverage of the Panthers/Rangers game, it was announced that this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs will begin on April 20. I do love the Stanley Cup Playoffs; the NHL definitely has the best postseason out of all of the four main leagues. The Stanley Cup Playoffs serve as the best eight week stretch in sports; it's a period full of chaos, nail biting moments, and epic occurrences!

Here's a brief history of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

In 1942, the NHL (which began play 25 years prior in 1917) was whittled down to just six teams after so many other franchises folded. Those six teams:  the Boston Bruins, the Chicago Blackhawks, the Detroit Red Wings, the Montréal Canadiens, the New York Rangers, and the Toronto Maple Leafs. For the next quarter-century, those six teams served as the entire league, and the playoff format saw the top four teams qualify. A two-round playoffs took place:  the Semifinals and the Final. When the league doubled in size from six teams to 12 in 1967, so did the playoff population--from four teams to eight, with the top four teams from each division (West and East) qualifying for a three round playoffs:  Quarterfinals, Semifinals, and Final. The 1974-75 season saw a division realignment as the teams kept adding up, with the league consisting of two conferences and four divisions (two divisions per conference). The playoff format saw the top 12 teams qualify based on record, with the four division winners getting byes to the Quarterfinals, while the other eight teams faced off in a best-of-3 preliminary round.

It was five years later in the 1979-80 season that the league first started qualifying 16 teams for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and it's been 16 teams ever since (with the exception of the COVID-affected 2020 playoffs, which saw 24 teams participate). For two seasons, it was the top 16 teams based on record, then beginning in the 1981-82 season, the top four teams in each division qualified, and the first two rounds were division based (Division Semifinals and Finals), which was followed by the Conference Finals and the Stanley Cup Final (this format would return in the shortened 2020-21 season). The 1993-94 season did away with the division based rounds and kept the first three rounds conference based, and in the 2013-14 season, the format changed to the current version which seems the top three teams in each division qualify, while each conference's last two spots are decided via a Wild Card format, regardless of division. 

16 teams, four rounds, all in a best-of-seven format, and loaded with all of the chaos in the world. Of course, there's also overtime. God bless that overtime. In the regular season, we get a five-minute overtime played in a three-on-three format, followed by a shootout. In the playoffs, overtime is five-on-five, and it's 20 minutes--same as a regulation period. And if nothing's settled after overtime, they play another one, and another one if it's needed, and so on. Sudden death, play until someone scores. That results in some LOOOOOOOONG games. Remember the five-overtime game in the bubble in 2020? And last year gave us that four-OT game that almost needed a fifth overtime period!

I am ready for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, especially as a Colorado Avalanche fan who definitely believes that another Cup is in the cards!


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On 3/24/2024 at 5:49 PM, Gwen said:

Didn't the Stanley Cup playoffs use to happen earlier?

Yes, the playoffs used to start earlier in past years, and even the Final used to take place completely in May. It wasn't until some time in the early 90s that the Cup Final became part of June.

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