5 NHL Playoff Series We Want to See
Fans will soon forget the lockout ever happened when the NHL playoffs begin in a month. The constant two-month excitement of intense rivalries played out over seven games and multiple-overtime contests have everyone on the edges of their seats.
Here are the top five potential playoff series we can't wait to see.
5. Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers
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The Battle of Pennsylvania has been a popular one—and it reached ultimate heights in last year's playoffs.
Pittsburgh faced off against Philadelphia in the opening round and there was no shortage of bad blood between the two clubs during the regular season.
The Pens appeared to have plenty of momentum with Sidney Crosby back in time for the playoffs, but Philly ousted its arch-rivals in six games.
If you don't believe this was a good series, then just look at the scores:
Game 1: Flyers 4 Penguins 3 (OT)
Game 2: Flyers 8 Penguins 5
Game 3: Flyers 8 Penguins 4
Game 4: Penguins 10 Flyers 3
Game 5: Penguins 3 Flyers 2
Game 6: Flyers 5 Penguins 1
Ilya Bryzgalov and Marc-Andre Fleury were putrid throughout the series, but it gave all hockey fans plenty of entertainment.
The core players from that series remain on their respective clubs, so should these two teams meet again in the playoffs, there should be plenty of high-scoring games.
There is no love lost between the Penguins and Flyers, and seeing two teams that put their best efforts on the ice when their pitted against one another would be a huge win for the league and its fans.
4. Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montreal Canadiens
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Ah yes, the two most dominant NHL franchises to ever exist, and two of the Original Six teams.
Montreal has made the playoffs in five of the last seven seasons, while Toronto remains the only team left who is yet to earn a playoff berth since 2005-06.
That could very well change this season, as the Habs are battling Boston for the second seed in the Eastern Conference, while Toronto is holding onto the sixth spot.
Whether these teams are fighting for their playoff lives or a top-five pick in the entry draft, every matchup seems to be intriguing.
These two teams hate each other, and that goes back to the Maurice Richard and Ted Kennedy days during the 1940s and 1950s.
The battle of Canada's two largest series has resulted in 15 postseason meetings, including six matchups for the Stanley Cup.
The Habs and Leafs haven't met in the playoffs since 1978-79.
Having these teams meet again would surely have folks from all over the hockey world tuning in to watch this epic series.
Although they haven't met in the postseason for 34 years, there is no doubt in anyone's mind that this series would be full of emotion and excitement.
3. Vancouver Canucks vs. Chicago Blackhawks
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The Canucks and Blackhawks rivalry never fails to live up to the hype.
It all started in 2009 when a major fight broke out between both teams. Both teams had plenty of players involved. Alex Burrows and Duncan Keith got into a scrum, and Burrows controversially pulled Keith's hair.
Perhaps it was fate that had these two teams meeting twice in the playoffs in 2009 and 2010—with Chicago winning both meetings.
The 2010 series is perhaps best remembered for former Blackhawk Dustin Byfuglien taunting the Canucks fans after scoring a goal in Game 3.
Both teams met for a third consecutive postseason in 2011. The Canucks jumped out to an early 3-0 series lead, only to see Chicago rally to even the series at three game apiece.
Alex Burrows scored in overtime of Game 7 to seal the series and avenge the previous two seasons' defeat.
Ever since that time, Blackhawks center Dave Bolland had some name calling for the Sedin brothers, calling them "sisters." Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault struck back with some harsh comments of his own.
So far this season, both teams have played in two thrilling shootout games, with each team winning on home ice.
These two teams despise one another, have met in the playoffs many times, have plenty of words for each other and play in exciting games.
Who wouldn't want to see a fourth playoff matchup in five seasons for these two clubs?
2. Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens
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Since 2002, Montreal and Boston have faced off against each other five teams in the postseason—with the Habs winning three of those series, but the Bruins have won the last two.
There is no rivalry like this one. It's another one of the Original Six rivalries that's been around since 1924.
Plenty of incidents are capable of summing up this rivalry, including the Zdeno Chara hit on Max Paccioretty on March 8, 2011.
Then there's Boston's head coach Claude Julien and forward Brad Marchand calling out Habs' defenseman P.K. Subban for "being afraid to fight" and that he "embarrasses the game."
The two fanbases and players hate losing to each other.
Another playoff matchup wouldn't be just about the Cup—it would also be for pride and bragging rights.
Boston and Montreal have met three times this season, and each game has been decided by one goal.
The most recent matchup was in 2011, where Boston overcame a 2-0 series deficit en route to winning Game 7, courtesy of Nathan Horton's overtime goal.
Two teams that always play in some of hockey's most entertaining games and have become one of the most notable playoff rivalries in sports for the sixth time in 11 years?
1. Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Boston Bruins
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These two clubs haven't shown much hatred towards one another, and haven't met in the playoffs since 1991-92.
So why do we all want to see this?
Because of one man, Jarome Iginla.
Calgary Flames general manager Jay Feaster confirmed the report he was a Penguin in a conference.
Boston lost out in the Brenden Morrow and Jarome Iginla sweepstakes to Pittsburgh and they likely won't forget that any time soon.
That would certainly be a storyline to follow if these two teams do indeed meet.
They're the last two teams from the Eastern Conference to win the Stanley Cup and are consistent playoff teams as well as contenders for the Cup.
I don't believe the Bruins are over the vicious elbow Pens forward Matt Cooke gave to Marc Savard in 2010—whose career is in jeopardy after the hit.
These two teams are heavily expected to meet in the Eastern Conference Final, and it would surely be one for the ages.
If these teams met in the playoffs, it would be very interesting to find out if Iginla made the right decision.
ESPN's Pierre LeBrun said it best here.