There is also a lot of grist for the league's marketing department to evoke sentiments of a long-standing rivalry. Talk about the Red Wings and you can recall names like Ted Lindsey, Gordie Howe and Steve Yzerman, and many, many others. Detroit calls itself "Hockeytown" and has won 11 Stanley Cups including last year's. The Red Wings clearly would like a chance to repeat with back to back Championships, like they've done three (3) times before. Chicago hockey fans can recall names like Bobby Hull, Tony Esposito, and Stan Makita. The Blackhawks are an Original Six team but they have only won three Stanley Cups the last in 1961. The last time they made it to the finals was 1991-92 against the Pittsburgh Penguins - I'm sure they wouldn't mind a rematch.
The other series has the Pittsburgh Penguins against the Carolina Hurricanes. The two Eastern Conference teams who've played the hottest and often best hockey since the All-Star break. Pittsburgh is looking to finish what they started last season when they lost in the finals to Detroit. Pittsburghers would like to see the Pens capture their third Stanley Cup and their first in the post-Lemiux (on the ice) era. Carolina is looking to prove to the world that they, not the Washington Capitals, are still the best team in the Southeast Division AND if they win they will have captured their second Stanley Cup in the 36 years of their existence and the 12 years since they moved to Carolina.
The Capitals have cleaned out their lockers at Kettler and are in their off season but their is still a lot of good hockey to be played before someone drinks from"The Cup", today's game in Detroit should be the first of a number of intense games between the best teams in the NHL. It should be fun, although not as much fun as it could be for Caps fans.
Okay kids, get out there, play hard, have fun and take no prisoners....