Only a week remains in the NHL’s regular season. With the opening round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs beginning on April 15, here’s a look at several potential matchups I’d love to see in this year’s postseason. Doesn’t matter when these clubs face each other, just as long as they do at some point this spring.
New York Rangers vs New York Islanders. It’s been 21 years since these great New York rivals faced off in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Far too long for one of hockey’s great rivalries. The Rangers are among this season’s top teams, but the Islanders gave them fits during their regular-season series. Of all this year’s potential first-round matchups, this is the one I’d most like to see.
Chicago Blackhawks vs St. Louis Blues: These former Norris Division rivals met last season in the playoffs for the first time in over a decade. It was a barn burner of a series, whetting my appetite for another tilt between these two clubs.
Montreal Canadiens vs Boston Bruins. What, again? Yes, again! More please! This is arguably the most storied rivalry in NHL history. Since 1929, not a decade has passed without these two teams facing each other in the postseason. Whenever they meet, it’s almost always a lengthy and intense series. A Canadiens-Bruins series is NHL playoff hockey at its best.
Anaheim Ducks vs Los Angeles Kings: The Battle of Southern California (or “The Freeway Faceoff”) was finally established in the playoffs for the first time last year between the Ducks and Kings. The Kings prevailed in a thrilling series which went the distance. With the Ducks dominant this season and the Kings possibly scraping into the playoffs, it could prove an entertaining rematch between these two.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs Washington Capitals. These two clubs have a notable playoff history stretching back to 1991, but they’ve clashed only once in the postseason during the Sidney Crosby – Alexander Ovechkin era. We must see more!
Vancouver Canucks vs Calgary Flames: Two of the most intense playoffs series I’ve ever seen involved these two teams in the 1989 Smythe Division semifinals (won by the Flames) and the 1994 Conference quarterfinals (won by the Canucks). It’s been 11 years since they last faced each other in the postseason and I’d love to see them face off this year.
Minnesota Wild vs Winnipeg Jets: I don’t think there’s any team in the Western Conference that wants to face the surging Wild in this year’s playoffs. The Jets, meanwhile, would be making the postseason for the first time since relocating from Atlanta in 2011. The two clubs also have a natural geographic rivalry which could set the stage for a humdinger of a playoff series.
If you don’t see your team included in this listing, don’t be offended. It doesn’t mean I’m disrespecting your club. These are merely the playoff series I would like to see. Feel free to list yours in the comments section below.