I hardly have time to care too much about the National Hockey League. There’s just too many other things going on in the world of sports to consume my attention.
But now we’re down to the final four teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That’s reason enough to start paying attention, right?
What’s interesting about the upcoming matchups this weekend is that there’s no hard feelings stemming from previous postseason clashes to help get the excitement brewing. Instead we’ve got one team in the mist of a marginally lengthy Stanley Cup drought and, in comparison, three others still cleaning up confetti from recent triumphs.
On Saturday it’s the top-seeded New York Rangers and the No. 2 Tampa Bay Lightning meeting in the Eastern Conference. Sunday it’ll be the No. 1 Anaheim Ducks hosting the No. 3 Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference.
Below is a quick look at previous postseason outings for each of our semifinalists.
And in case you’ve lost count, it’s now been 22 years since a Canadian team has last won the Cup, way back when the Montreal Canadians beat the Los Angles Kings in five games in 1993.
In fact only five teams from up north have returned to the final series since. And three of the remaining four franchises were responsible for wins in Stanley Cup finals against Canadian teams, making the impending finale of 2015 a likely tough series to stomach for fans from certain areas in North America.
#1 New York Rangers – Appearing in the postseason for the ninth time in 10 years, the Rangers fell short of winning the Stanley Cup a year ago in six games against the Kings. New York also lost in six games in the 2012 conference final to the New Jersey Devils. The last time the Cup was raised by the Rangers was way back in 1994 when they knocked off the Vancouver Canucks in seven games. They then went on to lose in five games to the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1997 conference final.
#2 Tampa Bay Lightning – Winners of the Stanley Cup over the Calgary Flames in seven games in 2004, the Lightning celebrated for an extra year as the NHL Lockout prolonged their encore. The Lightning proved to be no fluke though as they eventually made it back to the conference finals in 2011 before losing to the Boston Bruins in seven games. Tampa Bay is in the playoffs for just the third time over the past eight years.
#1 Anaheim Ducks – It’s been since winning it all in five games in 2007, over the Ottawa Senators, since the Ducks have gotten this close to the Stanley Cup. Anaheim, which lost in the Stanley Cup Finals in seven games to the New Jersey Devils in 2003, is competing in the postseason for the sixth time in the past eight years.
#3 Chicago Blackhawks – Winners of the Stanley Cup in two of the last six seasons, the Blackhawks have been the most dominant team in recent years among those that still remain. Chicago is appearing in its fifth Western Conference Final over the last seven years, including each of the past three. In 2010 the Blackhawks won it all in six games against the Philadelphia Flyers. In 2013 they finished Game 6 off in style against the Boston Bruins.