NHL Playoff Schedule 2013: Forecasting Thursday's Conference Semifinal Games

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NHL Playoff Schedule 2013: Forecasting Thursday's Conference Semifinal Games
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Are you enjoying the 2013 NHL playoffs yet?

If not, you may want to get that checked out. 

We've seen some electric hockey so far in the postseason this year. From nail-biters to blowouts, there's been a little bit of something for everyone.

The Boston Bruins will look to send John Tortorella's New York Rangers home early on Thursday. The defending champion Los Angeles Kings are hoping to take back the lead in the series against the San Jose Sharks. Meanwhile, the Chicago Blackhawks have all sorts of problems now, facing a 2-1 series deficit against the Detroit Red Wings.

Here's how I see Thursday's action going down, complete with the TV schedule.

 

Boston Bruins (3) at New York Rangers (0)

When: 7 p.m. ET

Watch: RDS, TSN, CNBC

The Bruins hold a dominant edge over the Rangers, leading the series 3-0. Led by a dangerous offensive attack and goaltender Tuukka Rask, Boston is on the verge of putting New York away.

But it won't be in Game 4. 

I don't believe that John Tortorella's squad will simply go gently into that good night, especially at home. Plus, two of Boston's wins have been by one goal. Game 1 was a thrilling 3-2 overtime affair, while the Bruins had to score two goals in the third period to take Game 3.

Boston is clearly the superior team at this point, but a Rangers squad led by one of the best goaltenders in the league won't be swept.

I think New York takes one game before eventually falling.

 

Chicago Blackhawks (1) at Detroit Red Wings (2)

When: 8 p.m. ET

Watch: CBC, RDS2, NBC Sports

Headed into the playoffs, the Blackhawks were supposed to be to the Western Conference what the Pittsburgh Penguins are to the Eastern Conference.

Well, the Red Wings are sort of messing that distinction up right now.

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Detroit has all of a sudden hit its stride, and the last two games for Chicago were absolutely brutal. The Red Wings outscored the Blackhawks in those two games by a combined score of 7-2, including a 4-1 win in Chicago.

You can call it momentum, you can call it hitting your stride. Whatever it is, the Red Wings have it.

Once Gustav Nyquist and Drew Miller knocked home goals 31 seconds apart in the second period of Game 3, you knew that game was over. Now, a Chicago team that went 0-for-4 on the power play in Game 3 must go into Detroit and try to steal a game.

Call me crazy, but I don't see it happening. This is why they play the games, folks.

 

San Jose Sharks (2) at Los Angeles Kings (2)

When: 10:30 p.m. ET

Watch: RDS, TSN, NBC Sports

The Sharks did well to defend home ice, but I think the defending champions are the better team.

While San Jose got the job done in Games 3 and 4, they were both one-goal affairs. In Game 3, the Sharks won in overtime. In Game 4, they survived some scary moments down the stretch (that included surviving a power-play goal off a bone-headed penalty by Brent Burns about halfway through the final period).

On the flip side, the Kings defeated the Sharks in Game 1 at home, 2-0. They also roared back to take Game 2, scoring two goals in the final two minutes of regulation.

You could call that an anomaly, but the reality is the Kings love playing on their home ice. They went 19-4-1 in Los Angeles during the regular season, the best home mark in the league.

I expect the Kings to bounce back at home in Game 5.

 

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