Rivalries spice up second round of Stanley Cup playoffs
By Steve Keating
(Reuters) - The Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins renew one of the NHL's greatest feuds while the Los Angeles Kings battle the Anaheim Ducks in a clash of Southern California rivals as part of a mouthwatering slate of second-round series.
The enigmatic Pittsburgh Penguins and equally perplexing New York Rangers should provide fans with more anxious moments while the Chicago Blackhawks continue the defence of their Stanley Cup crown against the Minnesota Wild.
The bruising action during the first round, where three of the eight best-of-seven series went the distance, appears likely to carry over into the conference semi-finals with already intense rivalries set to turn red hot.
Boston, who eliminated the Detroit Red Wings in five games, and Montreal, who swept the Tampa Bay Lightning, are well rested for what should be a wildly entertaining showdown of Original Six teams clashing in the playoffs for a 34th time - a record in North American professional sports.
"It'll be like trench warfare," Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien said ahead of Thursday's opening game. "Montreal-Boston is one of the great rivalries in sports, and we're going to be writing a new chapter."
Montreal hold a 24-9 edge in their playoff meetings with Boston but it is the Bruins who have come out on top in the last two series, in 2009 and 2011.
The top-seeded Bruins are considered the NHL's most complete team while Montreal, the only Canadian club to qualify for the playoffs, carry the Stanley Cup hopes of a hockey-mad nation.
A berth in the Eastern Conference Finals could be decided by a goaltending duel between netminders who backstopped their respective countries to Olympic medals earlier this year. Continued...