Health and Fitness

Rematch spherical: Blues-Avalanche, Panthers-Lightning up subsequent

Florida Panthers deadline addition Brandon Montour could not have had a rooting curiosity in Game 7 between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday evening.

Many of his teammates who obtained eradicated by the Lightning have been completely happy to see the back-to-back defending Stanley Cup champions win to change into their subsequent opponent.

‘I feel a number of guys needed to play this staff,’ Montour mentioned Sunday. ‘It’s at all times a battle in opposition to these guys, and we’re up for the problem and everybody’s excited in there.’

Lightning-Panthers is one among two second-round collection which might be rematches from final yr. In the Western Conference, the top-seeded Colorado Avalanche face off in opposition to the St. Louis Blues they swept out of the playoffs within the first spherical in 2021.

‘We’ve obtained to concentrate on now,’ Blues coach Craig Berube advised reporters Saturday. ‘Yeah there’s motivation, for certain, however you are within the playoffs. You’re making an attempt to win. What extra motivation do you want?’

Motivation is not an issue for Carolina and Edmonton after additionally transferring on to the second spherical. The Hurricanes will face off in opposition to both the New York Rangers or Pittsburgh Penguins, whereas the Oilers may get the primary Battle of Alberta playoff collection since 1991 if the Calgary Flames beat the Dallas Stars in Game 7 Sunday evening.




Just like final time, Florida has home-ice benefit. It did not matter a lot as a result of Tampa Bay received the primary two video games in Sunrise on the way in which to knocking out the Panthers in six.

The Sunshine State rivals cut up their 4 conferences throughout the common season.

‘People particularly in Florida have been begging for the 2 groups to be contenders and go at it,’ Lightning coach Jon Cooper mentioned in Toronto after Game 7 in opposition to the Maple Leafs. ‘They’ve retooled their staff and introduced some huge names in there and it needs to be a ton of enjoyable. They’re enjoyable to play in opposition to, they’re aggressive as hell and I feel it is actually good for hockey.’

Montour is much from the one participant who wasn’t a part of the collection final yr. The Panthers added ahead Sam Reinhart final summer time and bought defenseman Ben Chiarot and longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux on the commerce deadline, whereas the Lightning signed Corey Perry and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and introduced again defenseman Zach Bogosian earlier than the season earlier than getting deeper at ahead in March with Nick Paul and Brandon Hagel.

‘These have been the sort of matchups that I used to be enthusiastic about making the transfer down right here,’ Reinhart mentioned. ‘It brings out the most effective and the depth out of each groups.’




This was the primary matchup of the second spherical to get locked in after Colorado swept Nashville and St. Louis beat Minnesota in six. It additionally might be the feistiest, particularly within the aftermath of Avalanche middle Nazem Kadri concussing Blues defenseman Justin Faulk with an unlawful test to the top within the collection final yr that prompted an eight-game suspension.

Kadri is having a profession season, the Blues have already handled a collection of accidents on their blue line and nobody has forgotten that hit.

‘You need to win any collection,’ mentioned defenseman Nick Leddy, who’s one of some St. Louis newcomers together with ahead Brandon Saad, Pavel Buchnevich and Alexei Toropchenko. ‘At the tip of the day, playoffs are the most effective a part of the yr and we get one other nice crack at it.’

Saad performed for the Avalanche final season and had three objectives to assist beat the Blues. Now Berube is extra apprehensive about Norris Trophy finalist Cale Makar and Colorado’s huge weapons at ahead: Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog.

There are some similarities to the Wild in fashion of play, however Minnesota’s talent gamers do not have this type of measurement.

‘That’s the distinction,’ Berube mentioned. ‘You’re speaking 230-, 225-pound guys which might be actually good skaters, they’re robust guys. … You need to be bodily on them, however there’s going to be instances the place you are outmatched bodily at instances.’

Berube mentioned his staff would want to defend arduous and likewise rating some objectives. The Avalanche know the Blues have loads of depth offensively.

‘It’s a distinct assault as a result of it isn’t only one line that you simply actually need to concentrate on,’ Colorado defenseman Devon Toews mentioned. ‘They’ve obtained a full 12 forwards up there that may actually rating. It’s going to take all 4 of our traces and all six of our D to cease that and sluggish it down after which create our offense off of it.’


Carolina and New York final met within the best-of-five opening spherical of the 24-team expanded bubble playoffs in 2020. The fifth-seeded Hurricanes swept the Twelfth-seeded Rangers.

The Penguins and Hurricanes final met within the playoffs in 2009 – a Pittsburgh sweep within the Eastern Conference remaining on the way in which to profitable the Cup. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are nonetheless round from that collection, whereas then-Hurricanes captain Rod Brind’Amour is now their coach and then-20-year-old Penguins middle Jordan Staal is Carolina’s captain.

‘A playoff collection, I suppose, in opposition to Pittsburgh could be totally different,’ Staal mentioned. ‘It’ll be thrilling.’


Connor McDavid carried Edmonton previous Los Angeles with 14 factors within the hard-fought seven-game collection. The earlier time the Oilers and Flames met within the playoffs was nearly six years earlier than he was born.

Edmonton and Dallas final performed within the playoffs in 2003, a collection received in six by the Stars.

‘The job’s removed from over,’ Oilers defenseman Codi Ceci advised reporters Saturday evening. ‘We’ll simply need to refocus and prepare for the second spherical.’

Despite beginning his profession with Dallas and enjoying two seasons for Calgary, Oilers goaltender Mike Smith’s response to who he’d quite play was a easy, ‘I do not actually care.’


AP Sports Writer Pat Graham in Denver contributed.


Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at


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