NHL playoffs bracket 2024: What are the conference finals series in Stanley Cup playoffs?

The NHL's Eastern Conference and Western Conference finals are filled with recent participants.

The Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars were there last season. The New York Rangers and Edmonton Oilers were there two seasons ago. The Panthers were the only team of the four to advance, falling to the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2023 Stanley Cup Final.

The Eastern Conference final opens Wednesday with the Rangers hosting the Panthers in their second playoff meeting and first since 1997.

The Western Conference final starts Thursday with the Stars hosting the Oilers. The teams met in the playoffs six times from 1997 to 2003 with the Stars winning the last five series.

Here is a breakdown of the two conference final series:

New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin is making his second appearance in the Eastern Conference final. He lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2022.
New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin is making his second appearance in the Eastern Conference final. He lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2022.

New York Rangers (Metropolitan 1) vs. Florida Panthers (Atlantic 1)

How they got here: Rangers beat Washington Capitals 4-0, beat Carolina Hurricanes 4-2. Panthers beat Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1, beat Boston Bruins 4-2

Season series: 2-0-1 Panthers

Goaltenders: Rangers' Igor Shesterkin (8-2, 2.40 goals-against average, .923 save percentage) vs. Panthers' Sergei Bobrovsky (8-3, 2.37, .902)

What to know about the Rangers: Peter Laviolette is the only Stanley Cup winner among the four conference final coaches, winning in 2016 with the Carolina Hurricanes. .... Shesterkin leads conference final goalies in Moneypuck's goals saved above expected at 8.2. ... All of Artemi Panarin's four goals are game-winners, a league best. ... The Rangers held the Hurricanes' No. 2 overall regular season power play to two PPGs in the second round. They also have four short-handed goals through two rounds. But New York hasn't been great five-on-five, scoring one more goal than it has allowed.

Rangers' Conn Smythe (playoff MVP) candidates: Shesterkin, forward Vincent Trocheck

What to know about the Panthers: Captain Aleksander Barkov won the Selke Trophy as top defensive forward and has three game-winning goals. Bobrovsky is a Vezina Trophy finalist. ... The Panthers have 294 hits to the Rangers' 162. Physical forward Sam Bennett averages four per game. He injured Boston Bruins captain Brad Marchand in the last round with a controversial hit. ... The Panthers lead the Rangers in points by defensemen 25-16.

Panthers' Conn Smythe candidates: Barkov, Bobrovsky

Dallas Stars (Central 1) vs. Edmonton Oilers (Pacific 2)

How they got here: Stars beat Vegas Golden Knights 4-3, beat Colorado Avalanche 4-2. Oilers beat Los Angeles Kings 4-1, beat Vancouver Canucks 4-3.

Season series: 2-0-1 Stars

Goalies: Stars' Jake Oettinger (8-5, 2.09, .918) vs. Oilers' Stuart Skinner (7-3, 2.87, .881)

What to know about the Stars: Dallas coach Peter DeBoer is making his seventh appearance in the conference finals. He reached the Stanley Cup Final with the 2012 New Jersey Devils and 2016 San Jose Sharks. ... Oettinger is second among conference final goalies in goals saved above expected at 5.2. .... Dallas has four of the top shot blockers in the playoffs, led by trade deadline acquisition Chris Tanev with 56. ... The Stars' penalty kill has struggled at 69.2 percent, which could present problems against the Oilers' league-leading power play (37.5 percent).

Stars' Conn Smythe candidates: Oettinger, forward Wyatt Johnston

What to know about the Oilers: Their offense is powerful. Leon Draisaitl has a 12-game point streak and leads playoff scorers with 24 points. Zach Hyman has a league-high 11 goals. Connor McDavid has been limited to two goals but has an NHL-best 19 assists. Evan Bouchard leads defensemen with 20 points. ... In addition to the top power play, the Oilers have the best penalty kill (91 percent). They stopped all 14 Vancouver power plays over the last four games. ... Goalie Stuart Skinner sat out Games 4 and 5 of the second round but allowed only three goals over Games 6 and 7.

Oilers' Conn Smythe candidates: Draisaitl, Hyman, Bouchard

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Stanley Cup playoffs bracket 2024: Conference finals series