The first round of the 2013 NHL playoffs are already in high gear so wherever you enjoy your Friday nights, make sure you catch the action-packed schedule of hard-hitting postseason hockey.
The top contenders from both the Eastern and Western Conferences will be showcased. Any NHL fan would be foolish to miss four of the most marquee matchups of the postseason.
All of the following games will keep hardcore and casual hockey fans alike glued to the television for a wild Friday night of NHL action.
Toronto at Boston: 7 p.m. ET, NHL Network
NY Rangers at Washington: 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network
Anaheim at Detroit: 8 p.m. ET, NHL CNBC
St. Louis at Los Angeles: 10 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network
For the full postseason schedule, check out NHL.com.
Toronto Maple Leafs at Boston Bruins: 7 p.m. ET, NHL Network
Game 5: Bruins lead, 3-1
The Boston Bruins stole an overtime victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 4, and now the Bruins will look to end the series in five games in front of their home fans.
Boston rode the offensive success of center David Krejci to a victory with his three goals on Wednesday night. The Bruins will once again look to the elite scoring of its forwards to put the Maple Leafs away before they can gain any momentum.
As seen in Boston's 4-3 win in Game 4, Toronto is a viable challenger to the Bruins.
The Maple Leafs have a very talented roster and will be much better as the years go on, but Boston is playing too well in every facet of the game right now for Toronto to mount much of a comeback.
Prediction: Bruins 4, Maple Leafs 1
New York Rangers at Washington Capitals: 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network
Game 5: Series tied, 2-2
While there has been plenty of great postseason hockey thus far, the Eastern Conference series between the Washington Capitals and the New York Rangers has been the best.
New York stole a huge 4-3 win in Game 4, but this series shifts back to Washington where the Capitals have not lost yet in the playoffs. With each team taking two wins in front of its home crowds, all eyes will be on whether Washington will be the sharper team on Friday.
The Capitals have proven they can solve the Henrik Lundqvist riddle throughout this series, but it will all come together in front of the raucous Washington crowd. This will be another all-out war, but the home team will squeeze out a big win.
Prediction: Capitals 5, Rangers 4
Anaheim Ducks at Detroit Red Wings: 8 p.m. ET, NHL CNBC
Game 6: Ducks lead, 3-2
Each of the last two games in the first-round series between the Anaheim Ducks and Detroit Red Wings have gone to overtime, and while many expected Anaheim to walk away with this series, Detroit is not going down without a fight.
This first-round battle shifts back to the Joe Louis Arena where Red Wings fans will be ready on Friday night. With a packed Joe Louis Arena, Detroit will feed off of that energy and attack the Ducks the way they did in Games 3 and 4.
While both offenses deserve serious credit for their success, the goalies in this battle—Anaheim’s Jonas Hiller and Detroit’s Jimmy Howard—have played much better than the stats indicate.
Howard will be the netminder who shines brightest Friday in front of his home crowd and force this series to a Game 7.
Prediction: Red Wings 3, Ducks 2
St. Louis Blues at Los Angeles Kings: 10 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network
Game 6: Kings lead, 3-2
The Los Angeles Kings have completely turned this series around after dropping the first two games to the St. Louis Blues. Now the matchup heads back to Los Angeles with the Kings having the chance to end the series and send St. Louis home early.
The Blues were the fourth seed in the Western Conference because of their stellar defensive play and elite goaltending, but St. Louis must step up to find the openings for the notoriously streaky Blues' offensive unit.
With every game in this series being settled by one goal, there is no reason to expect anything less than that on Friday night. Expect the Blues to find their offensive rhythm and force this series back to St. Louis.
Prediction: Blues 4, Kings 3
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