The most wonderful time of the year — a season that we occasionally call the Stanley Cup playoffs whenever we need to be specific — is just days away. It’s the time of year when hockey games intensify to a whole new level, because it’s do-or-die, it’s win-or-go-home, and the world’s most marvelous trophy, the Stanley Cup, is on the line.
It’s a special time for the players, but it’s also just as special for hockey fans. It’s always great when you get to see your favorite team in the playoffs, but the rules of fandom clearly state that you’re only allowed to have one favorite team. That means, when your team isn’t playing, you’re going to be watching a lot of hockey as just a casual fan.
As the regular season winds down, Boston Bruins fans are rooting for their team to win out and claim the top spot in the Eastern Conference. That way they can secure home ice advantage throughout the playoffs, as well as face-off with a less threatening opponent in the first round of the playoffs, like the New Jersey Devils or the Philadelphia Flyers.
But if you’re not a Bruins fan, you should be rooting for them to fail. If they can’t finish the season on top (the Tampa Bay Lightning nudged them closer to this reality with a win on Friday), they’ll be stuck with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round. Bruins fans see Toronto as a dangerous team they would like to stay clear of, but for non-Boston fans (and non-Leafs fans for that matter), seeing Boston and Toronto squaring off in the playoffs just makes for darn good television.
Original Six Rivalry
Put the whole Original Six thing to the side for a second. There’s already plenty of sports hatred between the cities of Boston and Toronto. The Red Sox and the Blue Jays of Major League Baseball don’t exactly like each other, nor do the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors of the NBA. Any time Boston and Toronto can meet in a playoff series, regardless of sport, it’s always going to be a great watch for the casual fan. The rivalry between the two cities certainly doesn’t need any extra fuel — not that we wouldn’t enjoy the extra fuel.
But the NHL brings out a little extra hatred between Boston and Toronto. They are Original Six rivals, something that is unique only to the NHL. It’s not quite on the same level as the Boston vs. Montreal rivalry, but Boston vs. Toronto is a close second. These teams will always have bad blood with each other, which wouldn’t be quite as intense if the Bruins were playing the Devils or the Flyers.
As a casual hockey fan, these are the things you want to see in the playoffs. If there’s potential for two Original Six franchises to meet in the playoffs, always root for it to happen.
Nobody Has Forgotten About 2013
Maple Leafs fans can attest to this better than anybody. It’s been five years, but not a single Toronto fan has forgotten about the bad taste left in their mouths by the Bruins in Game 7 of the 2013 quarterfinals. The Leafs held a 4-1 lead in the third period, then coughed it up in one of the biggest choke jobs in NHL history. The Bruins scored twice in the final two minutes of regulation to tie the game and send it to overtime, where they soon scored again to the put the dagger to Toronto’s season.
Let that image sink in for a minute. The Bruins scored twice in the final minute of regulation to tie the game. Sounds an awful lot like something the 2017-18 Bruins would do, does it not?
If you’re a Leafs fan, the only reason you should want to see this series happen is for the possible revenge factor. Other than that, you should want to stay as far away as possible from this insanely resilient Bruins team.
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If you’re a Bruins fan, you shouldn’t want anything to do with the Leafs right now, at least not in the opening round. They are too dangerous of a team. The B’s would be better off meeting either Philly or New Jersey in Round One.
But if you’re just a casual fan, you should be wanting to watch this Boston-Toronto matchup all day, every day. And based on the current standings, there’s a pretty darn good chance it’s going to happen.