The 2013 NHL playoffs are only a couple of days away now, and with the first-round matchups and schedule all set, there's definitely a lot to look forward to.
The Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins will enter the playoffs as the favorites to win the Stanley Cup this year—which is understandable given their respective success throughout the regular season. However, as we saw from the Los Angeles Kings' incredible run last year, anything can happen in the postseason and no team is guaranteed an easy victory.
Read on for a full TV schedule for the playoffs this year as well as a breakdown of the best first-round matchups.
2013 NHL Playoff TV Schedule: Round 1
Note: All times listed as ET; schedule courtesy of NHL.com.
Eastern Conference Schedule
(1) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (8) New York Islanders
The Penguins are the most potent team in the Eastern Conference and boast arguably the best offense in the league even without Sidney Crosby for some of it, though he is expected to return at some point having been cleared to practice, with the Penguins hopeful he could be ready for Game 1 (via ESPN).
They'll be largely expected to waltz through the No. 8 seed here, but there is something to like about the Islanders at the moment that makes them a tough matchup.
The Islanders have already made their first postseason since the 2006/07 season and having nothing to lose here. Pittsburgh, however, is under all the pressure that comes with being a No. 1 seed, and with Evgeni Nabokov in stellar form at the moment, may well see their offense struggle.
If that happens, this one could well contain a few surprises for both teams.
|1||Wednesday, May 1||7:30 p.m.||NBC Sports, TSN|
|2||Friday, May 3||7 p.m.||NBC Sports, TSN|
|3||Sunday, May 5||12 p.m.||NBC, TSN|
|4||Tuesday, May 7||7 p.m.||NBC Sports, TSN|
|5*||Thursday, May 9||7 p.m.||TSN|
|6*||Saturday, May 11 ||TBD||TSN|
|7*||Sunday, May 12||TBD||TSN|
2) Montreal Canadiens vs. (7) Ottawa Senators
|1||Thursday, May 2||7 p.m.||CBC, RDS, CNBC|
|2||Friday, May 3||7 p.m.||CBC, RDS, CNBC|
|3||Sunday, May 5||7 p.m. ||CBC, RDS, NBC Sports|
|4||Tuesday, May 7||7 p.m.||CBC, RDS, CNBC|
|5*||Thursday, May 9||7 p.m.||CBC, RDS|
|6*||Saturday, May 11||TBD||CBC, RDS|
|7*||Sunday, May 12||TBD||CBC, RDS|
(3) Washington Capitals vs. (6) New York Rangers
|1||Thursday, May 2||7:30 p.m.||NBC Sports, TSN|
|2||Saturday, May 4||12:30 p.m.||NBC, TSN|
|3||Monday, May 6||7:30 p.m.||NBC Sports, TSN|
|4||Wednesday, May 8||7:30 p.m.||NBC Sports, TSN|
|5*||Friday, May 10||7:30 p.m.||TSN|
|6*||Sunday, May 12||TBD||TSN|
|7*||Monday, May 13||TBD||TSN|
(4) Boston Bruins vs. (5) Toronto Maple Leafs
|1||Wednesday, May 1||7 p.m.||CNBC, CBC, RDS|
|2||Saturday, May 4||7 p.m.||CNBC, CBC, RDS|
|3||Monday, May 6||7 p.m.||CBC, RDS, NHL Network|
|4||Wednesday, May 8||7 p.m.||CBC, RDS, NHL Network|
|5*||Friday, May 10||7 p.m.||CNBC, CBC, RDS|
|6*||Sunday, May 12||TBD||CNBC, CBC, RDS|
|7*||Monday, May 13||TBD|
CNBC, CBC, RDS
Western Conference Schedule
(1) Chicago Blackhawks vs. (8) Minnesota Wild
|1||Tuesday, April 30||8 p.m.||NBC Sports, CBC|
|2||Friday, May 3||9:30 p.m.||NBC Sports, CBC|
|3||Sunday, May 5||3 p.m.||NBC, CBC|
|4||Tuesday, May 7||9:30 p.m.||NBC Sports, CBC|
|5*||Thursday, May 9||TBD||CBC|
|6*||Saturday, May 11||TBD||CBC|
|7*||Sunday, May 12||TBD||CBC |
(2) Anaheim Ducks vs. (7) Detroit Red Wings
The Ducks will come into the playoffs this year supremely confident that they can move through to the second round after their impressive regular season.
Anaheim ranks top 10 in both goals scored and goals allowed this year and has simply been one of the most consistent teams in the league all season.
Yet the Red Wings are on a serious roll right now and will like their chances at toppling the No. 2 seed. Detroit has beaten Anaheim twice this year, and more importantly, won on the road in Anaheim, which will give it great confidence heading into its first-round clash.
The Red Wings won their last four games to avoid a first-round showdown with the Blackhawks, which they'll no doubt look to build on against the Ducks here.
Anaheim are favorites and deservedly so, but there's a big chance at an upset brewing—particularly if Detroit can get consistent performances on the blue line.
|1||Tuesday, April 30||10:30 p.m.||NBC Sports, TSN|
|2||Thursday, May 2||10 p.m.||NBC Sports, TSN|
|3||Saturday, May 4||7:30 p.m.||NBC Sports, TSN|
|4||Monday, May 6||8 p.m.||CNBC, TSN|
|5*||Wednesday, May 8||10 p.m.||TSN|
|6*||Friday, May 10||TBD||TSN|
|7*||Sunday, May 12||TBD|
(3) Vancouver Canucks vs. (6) San Jose Sharks
|1||Wednesday, May 1||10:30 p.m.||TSN, NBC Sports|
|2||Friday, May 3||10 p.m.||TSN, CNBC|
|3||Sunday, May 5||10 p.m. ||NBC Sports, TSN|
|4||Tuesday, May 7||10 p.m.||CNBC, TSN|
|5*||Thursday, May 9||10 p.m.||TSN|
|6*||Saturday, May 11||TBD||TSN|
|7*||Monday, May 13||TBD||TSN |
(4) St. Louis Blues vs. (5) Los Angeles Kings
Just like last year, the Los Angeles Kings will enter the NHL playoffs without home-ice advantage. Yet as they showed in 2012, their defense and goaltending from Jonathan Quick is more than capable of pulling out some big performances on the road, which can lead them to postseason success.
St. Louis, however, will be desperate to ensure that doesn't happen, and knows that it must take advantage of the chances they create in this series.
The Blues have won 12 of their last 15 games heading into the postseason, with their goalkeeper Brian Elliot playing tremendously well. He should keep the Blues in the hunt in what should be relatively low-scoring games right throughout the series, which could very well end up going either way.
Low-scoring games only take one or two good chances to win them, and both teams have the talent to do just that—making this a definite must-watch matchup.
|1||Tuesday, April 30||8 p.m.||CNBC, CBC|
|2||Thursday, May 2||9:30 p.m.||CNBC, CBC|
|3||Saturday, May 4 ||10 p.m.||NBC Sports, CBC|
|4||Monday, May 6||10 p.m.||NBC Sports, CBC|
|5*||Wednesday, May 8||TBD||CBC|
|6*||Friday, May 10||TBD||CBC|
|7*||Monday, May 13||TBD||CBC |
* denotes if necessary.
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