NHL Playoff Matchups That Hockey Fans Would Love to See
Anyone sick of looking at the NHL's free agency signings page and seeing nothing but re-signings and minor league deals every day?
How about reading about rumors every day of the week, only to realize weeks have gone by and there has been no progress regarding them?
Let's talk about something more exciting: what can happen on the ice instead of what can happen over telephone calls and during meetings.
There are several match ups that I hope for every spring and never seem to work out. You'd be surprised at the amount of elite teams that haven't played each other in the postseason in what seems like over a decade.
Here's a look at some of those match ups.
Vancouver and Detroit have been two of the league's elite teams the last three or four years, but have not played a series against each other since 2002.
That series was one for the ages, as the Canucks shocked Detroit and won the first two games at The Joe. Then the Wings surged back to win the next four en route to the Stanley Cup.
I'd love to see this matchup happen again this year; Zetterberg and Datsyuk vs. the Sedin twins, Franzen vs. Kesler, Bertuzzi vs. his old team, etc.
In the early 1990s, there wasn't a better rivalry in hockey than the one that existed between the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues.
Now that both teams are among hockey's elite, there is a decent possibility that they could meet in the postseason very soon for the first time since 2002.
St. Louis and Chicago are two of the biggest markets in the midwest, and the baseball rivalry between the Cardinals and Cubs cements them as rival cities even further.
It would be a treat to watch Chicago and St. Louis face off in the spring of 2013.
Pittsburgh was picked by many experts to win the Stanley Cup this year, but the Penguins were manhandled by the Flyers in the first round. New Jersey then made quick work of the Flyers in the second round in a stunning upset en route to an unexpected appearance in the Stanley Cup Final.
These two Atlantic Division rivals have not met in the playoffs since 2001,despite being perennial playoff contenders for a while.
Crosby and Malkin vs. Kovalchuk, Henrique and Brodeur; this would be a phenomenal series
Obviously, this can't happen in 2012-13 unless it's the Stanley Cup Final—which is very unlikely. However, with realignment coming (hopefully) for 2013-14, these two could be in the same conference.
Both seem to have good futures in terms of talent, and as long as the Coyotes stay in the desert, this scenario could definitely happen in the near future.
A matchup of the old relocated Winnipeg Jets franchise against the new one. It would be quite a storyline.
They were the top two teams in the East in 2012, they are Original Six rivals, and it's Boston vs. New York. What else can you ask for?
Also, believe it or not, they haven't faced each other in the playoffs since...1973! Forty years? It's about time it happens again.
This would be an epic series, and would surely draw attention from everyone who calls themselves a hockey fan.
You probably know how good the Red Wings have been in recent years, but here's a fact that'll blow you away: Minnesota is the only Western Conference team that Detroit has not faced in a playoff series since 2001. (Edmonton is the only team besides Minnesota that the Wings have not beaten in a series with since 2000).
This could definitely become a great rivalry, especially with Parise and Suter saying no to the mighty Red Wings and joining the lowly Wild instead.
This would add another chapter in the Detroit vs. Minnesota rivalries; Tigers-Twins, Lions-Vikings...does either place have a basketball team?
Hockeytown vs. The State of Hockey in a dramatic postseason showdown. What's not to love?
Philadelphia and New York have been Atlantic Division rivals for a while now and have each been league powerhouses in recent years.
They recently competed in the 2012 Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, which was an event for the ages.
Yet, these two rivals have not played each other in the playoffs since 1997. Hopefully, it will happen again soon.
I don't know why, but this may be my favorite matchup on the list.
Featuring the last two Stanley Cup winners from the Eastern Conference and two of the league's elite teams, this would be an intense and physical series that would captivate any hockey fan.
It would be a team led by superstars like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin pitted against a physical, grinding club that relies on a team effort in order to achieve success.
The NHL's only black and gold teams have not met in a playoff series since 1991. Let's hope it happens again soon.
Maple Leafs vs. Anyone
To find this picture, I searched "Toronto Maple Leafs celebration".
Before I stumbled across this one, I found pictures of the Montreal Canadiens, Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, Florida Panthers, and Ottawa Senators all celebrating goals against the Leafs.
Anyways, the point is that the lowly Maple Leafs are the only team that hasn't made the playoffs since the lockout, as their last appearance was in 2004.
Love them or hate them, if you are a hockey fan, you should want the Leafs to make the playoffs.
The city is one of the richest in hockey history, and the team has one of the greatest fan bases in sports.
All-Original Six Stanley Cup Final
The Canadiens and Maple Leafs may have to wait a little while until they're at this stage, but the other four Original Six teams—Boston, Chicago, Detroit, and the New York Rangers—each have decent chances of making it to the Stanley Cup Final.
Original Six teams have had a lot of success recently; the 2012 Stanley Cup Final was the first since 2007 to not feature an Original Six team, and three have won Stanley Cups in that time period: Detroit in 2008, Chicago in 2010, and Boston in 2011.
A dream scenario would be to have these four teams as the final four remaining in the playoffs, guaranteeing an all-Original Six Stanley Cup Final. The odds aren't great, but it doesn't hurt to dream.