Foe down: Why NHL playoffs have reignited rivalries

05/01/15 by Matthew S. Vandriak

Familiar playoff foes will faceoff against each other in Day #2 of the second round along the road to the 2015 Stanley Cup. Let's take a look at the other two second series.
Eastern Conference: Montreal vs. Tampa Bay
How They Got Here: Montreal 4 Ottawa 2; Tampa Bay 4 Detroit 3

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These two division rivals will meet in the post season for the second consecutive spring. Last year, the Canadiens swept the Lightning in the opening round of the playoffs. However it was the Lightning who had Montreal's number during this years regular season, winning all 5 games by a combined score of 21 to 8. Tampa Bay was without starting goalie Ben Bishop in last years playoff series, but he will look to continue the success he and his team had versus Montreal. Bishop won all 5 starts against the Canadiens, while Carey Price was the losing goalie in all 5 of those games. Bishop was shaky at times in the opening round against Detroit, but shut the Red Wings out in Game 7. Bishop's 1.87 goals against average is 3rd best amongst remaining playoff netminders, Price is right behind him with a 1.94 mark and .939 save percentage. Price will be tested by the Lightning's Tyler Johnson, who led all playoff goal scorers after the first round with 6. Surprisingly, Steven Stamkos went all 7 games in the opening round without scoring a goal for the Lightning. But he netted 5 goals and 7 points in the regular season series between these teams. An area both teams will need to improve on will be the power play. Montreal was 1 for 20 in the opening round against Ottawa, while Tampa Bay was 2 for 30 against the Red Wings. Shorthanded, the Canadiens allowed 5 goals on 20 PP chances and scored once shorthanded, while the Lightning gave up 5 goals on 29 chances and scored twice shorthanded. The only news on the injury front is the Canadiens will be without defenseman Nathan Beaulieu, who will miss at least the first 4 games of this series.
Western Conference: Chicago vs. Minnesota
How They Got Here: Chicago 4 Nashville 2; Minnesota 4 St. Louis 2
For the third consecutive year, the Blackhawks and Wild will meet in the playoffs. These teams met in the second round last season, with the Blackhawks winning in 6 games. Chicago knocked Minnesota out in 5 games in the first round in 2013. Minnesota will have to find a way to slow down Jonathan Toews, who led all players in first round scoring with 8 points (3G/5A). Teammates Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith were right behind him with 7 points (2G/5A) each. Minnesota is led by Zach Parise, who posted 7 points (3G/4A) in the opening round. In goal, the Wild will lean on perhaps the best story in the NHL this season, in Devan Dubnyk. After joining the team in January, Dubnyk won 27 of his 38 regular season starts and posted a 2.32 goals against average and .913 save percentage in the opening round against the Blues. For Chicago, Corey Crawford will get the start in Game 1. But it was musical goalies for the Blackhawks in the opening round against Nashville. Crawford started the first two games of the series, then was replaced by Scott Darling, who started the final four games. But Darling was pulled in Game 6 and Crawford came on to get the series clinching in in Game 6. The Wild seem to have the special teams edge as well. Minnesota scored on 4 of their 12 power play chances against St. Louis, while killing 9 of the 11 PP chances the Blues had. Chicago scored on 3 of 19 power plays against Nashville, while allowing the Predators to score on 6 of their 22 playoff chances. On the injury front, the Blackhawks may be without forward Kris Versteeg for Game 1, while Daniel Carcillo may be able to return from injury. Chicago won 3 of the 5 regular season meetings between these teams.

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