What player matchups do we most want to see in the playoffs?
Scott Burnside: I'll take the easy one. Why not see Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid squaring off in a Stanley Cup finals? Not likely to happen this spring, especially with McDavid's Edmonton Oilers fading. But you know that Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan would have no qualms about matching power with power and [having] Crosby go head-to-head against McDavid. The great thing about a matchup like this would be that both Crosby and McDavid hunger to be the best, so the moment wouldn't be lost on them -- you just know they would understand the importance of such a meeting and would elevate their games accordingly.
Joe McDonald: Because I'm a defensive specialist, I would enjoy watching the Ottawa Senators' Erik Karlsson against the Tampa Bay Lightning's Victor Hedman. Of course, the Lightning would have to earn a postseason berth, but Tampa is playing solid hockey at the right time and has a chance at making the playoffs. The Swedish defensemen are two of the best in the world, and while Karlsson is a two-time Norris Trophy winner, Hedman will win the award at some point soon. Both are dynamic, offensive-minded defensemen with the ability to influence the game at both ends of the ice. Both are difference makers for their respective teams and have the potential to carry their teammates on a deep playoff run. Plus, the postgame quotes from Karlsson would be golden.
Pierre LeBrun: The best potential matchup that lurks out there is Claude Julien coaching the Montreal Canadiens in a first-round matchup against his team for a decade, the Boston Bruins. There would be no better story in the opening round. That series would also pit a fantastic player matchup: Hart Trophy candidate and winger Brad Marchand against his Team Canada World Cup teammate, defenseman Shea Weber. Julien would be juggling his bench all series long to make sure he had Weber out there against Marchand in every situation. Compelling stuff.
Craig Custance: Would it be asking too much for a Stanley Cup finals between the Nashville Predators and Montreal Canadiens? Can you imagine the Shea Weber and P.K. Subban debate on such a huge stage? It would be fascinating to see those two go head-to-head over the course of a potential seven-game series. I'm just not sure how realistic that is. Other possibilities: One of my guilty pleasures is covering the Western Conference playoffs and watching the centers go at it. There's nothing better than a showdown between Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings and Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks. The new one that would be fascinating for me would be to see the Anaheim Ducks play the Oilers in the first round and watch Connor McDavid get a series full of Ryan Kesler. That's the current matchup as we speak, and I wouldn't mind seeing it stay that way.