Around this time last year, the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks were preparing to meet in the Stanley Cup finals.
The two sides weren’t all that familiar with each other, having played only once during the regular season in a forgettable contest that included just five minor penalties.
Boston and Vancouver had never met in the postseason either, so there was no historic rivalry.
And after 20 minutes, Alex Burrows had bitten Patrice Bergeron and one of the nastiest Cup finals in recent memory was off and running.
Today, the New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings are in a similar position. The clubs played twice in October, neither meeting contentious, and they’ve never faced each other in the playoffs.
But according to Devils captain Zach Parise, there’s already hate.
“I don’t know if there is much of a feeling-out period as there would be during the regular season,” Parise said today. “I think you have to hate your opponent right away and I don’t think that’s going to be a problem for either side.”
Granted, the Devils and Kings don’t feature as many divisive players as the Canucks and Bruins did – Dustin Brown is the most notable one – so asking for this series to be as nasty as last year’s might be asking too much.
But you never know – one bite and we could be off and running again.