Murphy's Hockey LawThe Stanley Cup Playoffs are upon us and while the majority of our readers here are still bitter about a second straight spring without the Bruins in the dance, this tournament is arguably the best in sports. But if another Bruins collapse still has you so soured to watching hockey that you’re not planning on tuning into the playoffs that start tonight with three first round match-ups, then here’s some enticing storylines and Boston/New England connections to hopefully change your mind as well as your scorned hockey soul.

The following gives you the local connections in each series; reasons for and against cheering for each team and since we’re big fans of music here at Dirty Water Sports and in ‘Murphy’s Hockey Law’ a theme song for each team.

Here’s the first installment in this two-part series. The second will be posted Thursday and preview the remainder of the first round. Conference and Stanley Cup champion predictions will also be revealed then as well so be sure to check back here at DirtyWaterSports.

Tampa Bay Lightning (2nd, Atlantic Division) vs. Detroit Red Wings (3rd, Atlantic Division)

Prediction: Red Wings in 6

This could be a tough one for Bruins fans to watch considering both the Lightning and Red Wings are division rivals that beat the Bruins out for a playoff berth and that Boston, just last week dominated Detroit in a game that teased fans into thinking the Bruins would clinch a spot themselves, knocking out the Red Wings. But no use dreading on the past because this could be a fun series to watch if you’re a fan of speed and finesse! It’s also a rematch from the first round series that the Lightning won in seven games last year.

Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning come into this one arguably the most banged up team in the playoffs as they’re missing key players in Steven Stamkos, Anton Stralman, Victor Hedman and Ryan Callahan. This will be a difficult challenge for the defending Eastern Conference champions.

Boston/New England Connections: 

Founder & VP Corporate Relations Phil Esposito (Bruins Hall of Famer)

Forward Brian Boyle (Hingham, MA native, St. Sebastian’s High School, Boston College)

Goalie Ben Bishop (University of Maine 2005-08)

Assistant Coach Rick Bowness (Head Coach Bruins 1991-92; coached Bruins to Eastern Conference Finals)

Owner Jeff Vinik (Minority Owner of the Boston Red Sox, graduate of Harvard Business School)

Cheer For The Lightning Because: 

phil esposito

Espo! Enough said!

Rick Bowness has coached in the NHL for parts of 31 seasons and never won a Stanley Cup. His closest brush with the Cup came in 2011 when he was an assistant coach for the Vancouver Canucks who lost to the Bruins in seven games. He also took the 1991-92 Bruins on a Cinderella run (that include a sweep of the Canadiens) to the Wales Conference Finals.

Cheer Against the Lightning Because: 

They’re a division rival.

Song: ACDC, Thunderstruck

Detroit Red Wings

The Red Wings meanwhile enter the playoffs for the 25th straight season, and while they backed into the postseason by virtue of the Bruins losing to Ottawa Saturday and have not been a consistent team, they’re still loaded with skill and well, they’re the Red Wings! Hard to argue with 25 straight playoff appearances.

Boston/New England Connections: 

Goalie Jimmy Howard (Maine 2003-05)

Assistant GM Ryan Martin (Hamden, CT native, Trinity College Hartford, CT)

Cheer For The Red Wings Because:

They’re one of the best run organizations in pro sports.

The city of Detroit needs the morale a championship can bring.

Cheer Against The Red Wings Because: 

They’re five seasons shy of breaking the Bruins’ record of 29 consecutive playoff appearances.

They’re an Atlantic Division rival that the Bruins showed they could beat.

Song: Eminem, I’m Back

Pittsburgh Penguins (2nd, Metropolitan Division) vs. New York Rangers (3rd, Metropolitan Division) 

Prediction: Penguins in 6

This could be the best first round match-up in the Eastern Conference. These two teams met in the last two playoffs with the Rangers winning both series, including erasing a 3-1 series deficit in 2014.

Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins and probable Hart trophy candidate Sidney Crosby come into the postseason as the hottest team in hockey over the last month plus. They will be looking for redemption against the team that sent them home the last two postseasons.

Boston/New England Connections:

Head Coach Mike Sullivan (Marshfield, MA native, Boston University 1986-90, Boston Bruins player 197-98, Asst. Coach 2002-03, Providence Bruins Head Coach 2002-03, Boston Bruins Head Coach 2003-06)

Assistant Coach Rick Tocchet (Boston Bruins player 1995-97)

Assistant GM Billy Guerin (Wilbraham, MA native, Boston College 1989-91, Boston Bruins player 2002-04)

Player Development Coach Mark Recchi (Boston Bruins player 2009-11, helped Bruins win Stanley Cup in 2011)

Pro Scout Al Santilli (Boston, MA native and just a great hockey mind and better person!)

Cheer For The Penguins Because:

Sidney Crosby is a superstar and it’s good for the game when superstars succeed.

The Boston/New England connections, specifically Recchi whom the Bruins likely don’t win the Stanley Cup without in 2011.

This is hall of famer Mario Lemieux’s last chance at another Cup ring as he is selling his share in team ownership.

Cheer Against The Penguins Because: 

They beat the Bruins in consecutive conference finals in 1991 and 1992.

They employed Ulf Samuelsson and Matt Cooke

Song: House Of Pain, Back From The Dead

New York Rangers

The Rangers bring in a veteran laden team that fell just short of the Stanley Cup finals last year when they fell to the Lightning in seven games on home ice. Some could argue they’ve underachieved this season in a mediocre Eastern Conference, but their veteran core is hungry to finally win the Cup before their window closes and the salary cap forces changes.

Boston/New England Connections: 

Defenseman Keith Yandle (Milton, MA native, Cushing Academy)

Forward Kevin Hayes (Dorchester, MA native, Boston College 2010-14, brother of Bruins forward Jimmy Hayes)

Forward Chris Kreider (Boxford, MA, Boston College 2010-12)

Forward Dominic Moore (Harvard University 1999-2003)

General Manager Jeff Gorton (Framingham, MA native, Springfield College, Spent 15 years in Bruins organization, serving as Assistant GM from 1999-2006 and was a interim GM for the Bruins from March-July, 2006)

Assistant GM Jim Schoenfeld (Played for the Bruins 1983-84)

Director of Player Personnel Gordie Clark (Drafted by Bruins in 1972, Assistant Coach of the Bruins 1989-92)

Assistant Director Player Personnel Steve Greeley (Scituate, MA native, Boston University player 2000-04 and assistant coach 2013-15, all-around great guy that let yours truly hoist the Cup and put my baby daughter in it when he was part of the 2012 Los Angeles Kings)

Director of Player Development Chris Drury (Trumbull, CT native, Boston University 1994-98)

Cheer For The Rangers Because:

The Boston and New England natives will throw some memorable Cup parties back home!

Dominic Moore is a shining example of perseverance after losing his wife three years ago and deserves to have his dedication to the game rewarded.

Do you remember the last time the Rangers hoisted Lord Stanley?

Cheer Against The Rangers Because:

The Rangers are longtime Original Six rivals of the Bruins.

The Rangers employ Ulf Samuelsson as their Assistant Coach.

Song: The Notorious B.I.G., Mo Money, Mo Problems

St. Louis Blues (2nd, Central Division) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (3rd, central Division) 

Prediction: Blues in 7

It’s an absolute shame this has to be a first round match-up because not only will it be the the best series of the opening round but could be the best series of the first three rounds. The Blues and Blackhawks are primed for a heavyweight battle that would be better served taking place in the Western Conference finals but you’ll just have to tune in now for a series that will entertain until the end.

St. Louis Blues

The Blues have been trying to convert their regular season success into playoff success for a while now and it’s basically now or never for head coach Ken Hitchcock and his skilled core to prove their not perennial choke artists. They’ve got great goaltending in Brian Elliot and Jake Allen, a formidable defense and a forwards corps that play with a ruthless forecheck. Throw in ever-budding superstar superstar Vladimir Tarasenko and the dynamics are there for this to be the spring the Blues make a run.

Boston/New England Connections:

Senior Advisor of Amateur Scouting Larry Pleau (Lynn, MA native, original member of New England Whalers and former coach and GM of Hartford Whalers)

Director of Player Personnel Rob DiMaio (Boston Bruins player 1996-2000)

Director Of Player Development Tim Taylor (Boston Bruins player 1997-99)

Amateur Scout Keith Tkachuk (Melrose, MA native, Boston University 1990-91)

Cheer For The Blues Because: 

They have been on the brink of success for a while.

Have never won a Stanley Cup.

Play a heavy game like the 2007-08 to 2013-14 Bruins.

Cheer Against The Blues Because:

They employ a former Hab in Kirk Muller? But he’s a good guy and coach. Not much to hate about this team.

Song: Elvis Presley, Now Or Never

Chicago Black Hawks

The defending Stanley Cup Champions come into the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs looking primed for a fall from grace like they always do. They were inconsistent at times this season and battled injuries down the stretch. However, Hart (MVP) Trophy favorite Patrick Kane and Calder (Rookie of the Year) Trophy candidate Artemi Panerin were an offensive dynamo and carried them. Now with everyone healthy, can they repeat and win their fourth Stanley Cup in seven seasons? Very hard to bet against a dynasty but we shall see.

Boston/New England Connections

Goalie Scott Darling (Maine 2008-10)

Head Coach Joel Quenneville (Hartford Whalers player 1983-90)

Assistant Coach Kevin Dineen (Hartford Whalers player 1986-92 & 1995-97, head coach Portland Pirates 2005-11)

Assistant GM Norm Maciver (Hartford Whalers player 1983-84, Bruins Assistant Coach 2003-06)

Scout Mike Mottau (Quincy, MA native, Boston College player 1996-2000, Boston Bruins player 2012)

Cheer For The Blackhawks Because: 

They are the NHL’s version of the Patriots, constantly mastering the salary cap and producing a contender.

Scott Darling. A great comeback story of perseverance. Also trains with local Boston area goaltending coach Brian Daccord, who was the goalie coach for the Bruins from 2002-2004.

Cheer Against The Blackhawks Because: 

They stole a chance for Game 7 for the Bruins in 2013.

They are what the Bruins could’ve been with better cap management.

Song: The Fratelli’s, Chelsea Dagger (*Sorry to torture you like a visiting goalie at United Center with the Blackhawks goal song)