Brace yourself for a wild NHL postseason. The first round is loaded with great matchups, and that trend will roll all throughout these playoffs.
Whatever way this postseason works out, we are bound to have a great slate of matchups, but there are certainly some that are more enticing than others.
I'll take a look at the three I'm most anxious to see.
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No. 3: St. Louis Blues (4) vs. Los Angeles Kings (5)
So, this isn't just a potential matchup. It is on tap, and it should be a great one.
The defending champion Los Angeles Kings once again struggled a bit in the regular season, and they enter the postseason without home-ice advantage. Their fifth seed is actually a step up from last year's eighth.
The improvement in the regular season is largely attributed to better offense that has been sparked by Jeff Carter and his 26 goals.
The Kings won the Stanley Cup last year with excellent defense and tremendous goalkeeping from Jonathan Quick. Quick has been strong this year, but not consistent, and he's been far better at home than on the road. This could be a problem considering the Kings are the fifth seed.
Meanwhile, St Louis enters the playoffs on a high note by earning 12 wins in its last 15 games as Brian Elliot allowed just 16 goals in his last 13 games.
This sets up for what should be a low-scoring series, which isn't always the most entertaining. However, I can't wait to see if the Kings can flip the switch for the postseason once again, and do so against a team that is on a roll.
No. 2: Pittsburgh Penguins (1) vs. Montreal Canadiens (2)
Now, let's start projecting some matchups, and this is a great place to start.
For starters, we have the East's top two teams. Then we have Michel Therrien riding in as coach of the Montreal Canadiens to take on his former team, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
If Therrien was able to upset the Penguins, it would cap off what has been a spectacular year for him. Under his guidance, the Canadiens went from an also-ran into a true power, and to get a little revenge on the franchise that dumped him would be icing on the cake.
Statistically, the Penguins hold the advantage. They are a powerhouse.
However, the Canadiens have shown the ability to play some of the league's best defense, and this will provide a nice test for the Penguins and their league-leading offensive attack.
No. 1: Chicago Blackhawks (1) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (1)
There are plenty of potential Stanley Cup matchups that would produce some excellent hockey, but none is more intriguing than these two powers duking it out.
Both of these teams dominated this season and finished on top of their respective conferences with 36 wins each.
On top of these two being the league's obviously dominant teams, is the fact that this matchup offers an nice mix of styles.
The Penguins led the league in goals scored, and the Chicago Blackhawks allowed the fewest goals.
There isn't anything better than watching the two best teams pit offense against defense with the Stanley Cup on the line.