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The NHL’s current playoff system gave us uncertainty until the final weekend; inequitable circumstances for successful teams, like the Montreal Canadiens drawing the New York Rangers in the first round; and, alas, nearly none of the rivalry matchups that seemed so possible down the stretch, i.e. the Battles of Ontario, Alberta and California.
What we’re left with are some intense matchups, some oddly compelling ones and five Canadian teams that somehow won’t cannibalize each other in the opening round for once.
The Edmonton Oilers, with the boundless young dumb energy of a teenage boy fumbling with his first bra strap, taking on last year’s crusty old conference champions, the San Jose Sharks. Connor McDavid’s first spin in the playoff spotlight. Strap in.
The first is Penguins-Blue Jackets because there’s never any love lost between these teams. The fans hate one another. The players hate one another. Torts and Sullivan are good pals, but for the next two weeks they won’t be.