The Stanley Cup Playoffs began yesterday evening without the Calgary Flames for a second consecutive season, and Flames fans who still wished to watch the remaining sixteen teams duke it out for Hockey's ultimate prize voluntarily or forcibly took up frivolous allegiances--most notably in opposition to the Vancouver Canucks.
Last night's action saw the Canucks, Red Wings, Penguins, and Capitals all take a 1-0 series lead over their lower-seeded opponents, with the only real surprise of the night being the Nashville Predators' 4-1 thrashing of the Anaheim Ducks.
Tonight, the other three series will begin. Read on for a quick look at each match-up.
(3) Boston Bruins vs. (6) Montreal Canadiens (7PM ET/5MST on CBC, RDS, and Versus): As divisional rivals, these two teams were at each other's throats all season long, and the situation was only exacerbated by the Chara-Pacioretty incident late in the season. Many are expecting this series to be a bloodbath, but I'm not sure it will be.
(2) Philadelphia Flyers vs. (7) Buffalo Sabres (7:30PM ET/5:30MST on TSN and Versus): This one is hard to call. The Sabres stuggled for much of this season to be sure, but Ryan Miller is capable of stealing a game and possibly even a series, and goaltending is an area where the Flyers have historically struggled and continue to do so, although Philly certainly doesn't lack offensive punch.
(2) San Jose Sharks vs. (7) Los Angeles Kings (10PM ET/8MST on TSN and Versus): Another match-up between divisional rivals; the Kings are a young team that is still coming into its own--how much of a fight will they put up against the veteran Sharks? The Sharks overcame a poor start to the season to climb to the top of the Western Conference yet again, but will Antti Niemi be up to the task in net for another deep playoff run after taking the Blackhawks all the way last season? Is this Sharks team good enough to make up for his shortcomings?
Enjoy tonight's games everyone and throw your support behind your team of choice in the standings.