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NHL Playoffs Storylines: Who will face off for the Stanley Cup?

Four teams remain, including the two-time defending champions.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New York Rangers at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After several weeks of intense playoff action, only four teams remain in the battle for the Stanley Cup.

From the Eastern Conference we have the two-time defending champions who breezed past St. Louis in the 2nd round, the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the team of destiny that has twice gone the 7-game distance and come up clutch to face them—the New York Rangers. In the Western Conference, the triumphant victors of the Battle of Alberta, the Edmonton Oilers, are trying to avoid being swept away by the #1 seeded Colorado Avalanche, who have brought their regular-season dominance to the playoffs in full force. Let’s dive into each matchup after the weekend games:

East Final: Rangers vs. Lightning (NYR leads 2-1)

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New York Rangers at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After surviving two grueling series that went down to the wire, it looked like the Rangers might topple the defending champs with a little less drama after winning the first two games in New York and leading early in Tampa’s Game 3.

The Lightning stayed out of the 3-0 hole, however, but just barely, breaking a 2-2 tie with 42 seconds left to stay in the series. They better take advantage of home ice while they can, or Tuesday’s home game might be their last.

West Final: Avalanche vs. Oilers (COL leads 3-0)

Colorado Avalanche v Edmonton Oilers Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images

The Avalanche have looked unstoppable throughout the playoffs, and are continuing their march towards the championship against the Oilers with wins by multiple goals in all three games so far, including an 8-6 shootout in Game 1. Colorado has gone 11-2 in the postseason so far this year, with only one loss in regulation.

Will the winner of the East have enough left in the tank to face the Avalanche if they stave off the Oilers just one more time? Will Tampa get a chance to go for a third straight Stanley Cup? It’ll all unfold this June.