After being perennial favorites to take home the Stanley Cup for the past two seasons, the Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals have each had their own struggles claiming glory this year.
While the Hawks' Cup hangover may have lasted longer than any Chicago fan would have desired (as well as their talent purge), a late charge is pushing Chicago back to the forefront of contention out West.
The Caps, meanwhile, still haven't gotten the monkey off their backs from one of the biggest upsets in playoff history in 2010. Alex Ovechkin had his scoring drought, Alex Semin had his contract disputes and the goaltending situation is no closer to being solved in the nation's capital.
All that said, Washington is still right in the thick of things and is a dangerously underrated foe this time of year.
Despite being amongst the league leaders in save percentage and goals against average, Semyon Varlamov's health and conditioning have faltered, and his backup Michal Neuvirth has proven to be more than able to carry the load.
The Blackhawks find themselves with a similar fortune, albeit of their own accord. After passing on Antti Niemi's contract arbitration in the Summer, Chicago rolled out with Marty Turco as their starter this year. But Turco couldn't carry the load, and it would be Corey Crawford who would excel and take the position over in 2011.
With so much young, incredible talent on both teams, this one is a can't miss (and it's on national television, so there's no excuse).