When you’re fans of certain teams, there are opponents that you’d like to avoid in a seven-game series; and I’m sure our two mentioned below are like that for those fan bases. As hockey fans, Patrick and I debate which first-round matchups we’d like to see the most as the regular season comes to a close this weekend.
The historic rivalry of Boston-Montreal By Patrick Hoffman
The best matchups in the Stanley Cup Playoffs usually feature two teams that are rivals and have a history of playing big games against each other as well as games during the season that were exciting with great goals, saves, hits and of course, fights.
Based on these elements, it is easy to see which two teams would provide the best first-round matchup of this year's postseason: the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens.
In six games between the two Original Six franchises this season, hockey fans have seen it all. They have seen a ton of goals, several big saves, lots of heavy hitting and fisticuffs.
This was especially true for two of the six games between the clubs this season. In the first one back on Feb. 9, there were a combined 14 goals scored in a Bruins 8-6 win. Obviously, there a ton of goals but there was also a huge brawl in the second period that even saw both Bruins' netminder Tim Thomas and Canadiens' goaltender Carey Price get involved. Overall, the teams combined for an astounding 187 penalty minutes.
Then on Mar. 8, Bruins star defenseman Zdeno Chara leveled Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty into the stanchion between the benches, causing Pacioretty to be taken off the ice on a stretcher and miss the rest of the regular season. Chara was not suspended for the hit, while Pacioretty may be back on the ice for the Habs come playoff time.
The last game between the two clubs was also a typical game between these two rivals. The Bruins went out and dominated the Habs in a 7-0 victory in what many people thought would be a close game.
Simply put, if you are a true hockey fan, you want to see the Bruins and Canadiens face-off in the first-round. It would provide the best kind of hockey around, which is exactly what is needed in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
How about some San Jose-Anaheim action?
By Ryan Porth
Dear Hockey Gods,
Please give us a Sharks-Ducks first-round series.
Every hockey fan without Sharks or Ducks allegiances
Everyone talks about the old-school Original Six rivalries, like Boston-Montreal and Chicago-Detroit. But I feel some of the new-school rivalries are just as enjoyable. San Jose and Anaheim both entered the league in the early 1990’s, but that hasn’t kept them from developing hatred between one another.
These California rivals despise each other, and whenever they meet up there is no love lost. The hatred ratcheted up another level in 2009 when they went head-to-head in the playoffs for the first time. As you remember, the eighth-seeded Ducks knocked off the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Sharks in six games.
If the season ended today, they would meet again in the first round. The season series has been entertaining, including the two matchups within the last week. Anaheim blew a 2-0 lead and lost 4-2 in the Shark Tank last Saturday, but rebounded on Wednesday thanks to Corey Perry’s hat trick in a 6-2 victory. The Sharks won the season series by gaining 7 of a possible 12 points.
What I really like about these rivals facing off is the star power between the two teams. In one corner, you have veterans Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley. On the other side, the trio of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan is the best line in the entire league right now. Throw ex-Shark Teemu Selanne into the mix, and you have a lot of talented forwards in this matchup.
These are two fun teams to watch and, not to mention, two of the hottest teams in the league as we speak; they have combined to go 24-9-3 since the beginning of March.
When the dust clears tomorrow and the seeding is decided, there is one matchup in particular I am hopeful of seeing: Sharks-Ducks.
Our podcast 'RLD Hockey Talk' is LIVE every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 ET/Noon CT. Some of our notable guests in past episodes have been Dustin Brown, Doc Emrick, John Buccigross, Dave Strader, E.J. Hradek, Elliotte Friedman and Jay Grossman.