2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Stanley Cup Playoffs 2014: 1st-Round Predictions and Schedule After Season's End

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) prepares to take a face off during an NHL hockey game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Tampa Bay Lightning in Pittsburgh, Saturday, March 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Gene J. Puskar
David DanielsSenior Writer IApril 14, 2014

The time of the year when hockey fans lose the most sleep is here: the 2014 Stanley Cup playoff matchups are set.

On Sunday night, the NHL announced not only the matchups, but also the schedule for fans to rearrange their lives around.

Here they are, as well as predictions on which teams' postseason schedules will be extended. 

Paul Sancya
Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red Wings Schedule
GameDateTime (ET)HomeAwayTV
1Fri., April 187:30 p.m.BOSDETNBC Sports, TSN
2Sun., April 203 p.m.BOSDETNBC, TSN
3Tues., April 227:30 p.m.DETBOSNBC Sports, TSN
4Thurs., April 248 p.m.DETBOSNBC Sports, TSN
5 (if needed)Sat., April 263 p.m.BOSDETNBC, TSN
6 (if needed)Mon., April 28TBDDETBOSTSN
7 (if needed)Wed., April 30TBDBOSDETTSN
NHL.com

On paper, Boston should eliminate Detroit in no fewer than five games. The Bruins, winners of the Presidents Cup, entered Sunday outscoring their opponents by an average of 1.1 goals per game. The Red Wings finished the regular season having scored fewer goals than their opponents.

Despite being outscored at a pace of 0.1 goals per game, Detroit will enter the postseason with a winning 39-28-15 record. It defied paper this year, as well as the last. As a seventh seed in 2013, it eliminated the second-seeded Anaheim Ducks in Round 1.

The Red Wings now find themselves in a similar position as an eighth seed. And the Bruins will need to suffer memory loss to underestimate them. Detroit defeated Boston in three out of four of their regular-season showdowns.

However, as capable of an upset as the Red Wings are, Boston's consistency, racking up a league-high 54 wins, will be apparent in a seven-game series.

Prediction: Boston in six games

 

Chris O'Meara
Montreal Canadiens vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Schedule
GameDateTime (ET)HomeAwayTV
1Wed. April 167 p.m.TBMONCNBC, CBC, RDS
2Fri., April 187 p.m.TBMONCNBC, CBC, RDS
3Sun., April 207 p.m.MONTBCBC, RDS, NBC Sports
4Tues., April 227 p.m.MONTBCBC, RDS, NHL Network
5 (if needed)Thurs., April 247 p.m.TBMONCNBC, CBC, RDS
6 (if needed)Sun., April 27TBDMONTBCBC, RDS, NBC Sports
7 (if needed)Tues., April 29TBDTBMONCBC, RDS
NHL.com

Unlike Boston, Montreal doesn't have a superior regular-season campaign to hang its hat on, facing an opponent that owned it head-to-head this year. The Canadiens couldn't muster a win in four games this season against the Lightning, which hold a record of 3-0-1 against them. Tampa Bay just came away with its most imposing win of the year against Montreal, too, winning by a score of 3-1.

The Canadiens could use Ryan Malone's arrest for, according to ESPN, driving under the influence and possession of cocaine to become a distraction, because the injury bug is showing slight favor to Tampa.

While NHL.com's Arpon Basu is reporting that Montreal forward Alex Galchenyuk will miss Round 1 with a lower-body injury, the Lightning's Missy Zielinski reported goaltender Ben Bishop has not yet been ruled out.

Injuries and head-to-head success will give Tampa the edge in a tight series.

Prediction: Tampa Bay in seven games

 

Jay LaPrete
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets Schedule
GameDateTime (ET)HomeAwayTV
1Wed., April 167:30 p.m.PITCOLNBC Sports, CBC
2Sat., April 197 p.m.PITCOLNBC Sports, CBC
3Mon., April 217 p.m.COLPITNBC Sports, CBC
4Wed., April 237 p.m.COLPITNBC Sports, CBC
5 (if needed)Sat., April 26TBDPITCOLCBC
6 (if needed)Mon., April 28TBDCOLPITCBC
7 (if needed)Wed., April 30TBDPITCOLCBC
NHL.com

Pittsburgh had lost five of its last 10 games entering Sunday. If Columbus hadn't done the same, the injury-riddled Penguins should be worried. NHL.com's Wes Crosby reported that forwards Evgeni Malkin, Joe Vitale and Chris Conner are questionable for Game 1 against the Blue Jackets.

However, Pittsburgh still swept its season series with Columbus 5-0, outscoring its Eastern Conference rival by a combined score of 16-7. And the Penguins also have the best player on the ice, Sidney Crosby, whose 104 points this season are 17 more than any other player.

Depending on the status of Malkin, Columbus could keep the series close. But Crosby may not remember the last time Pittsburgh lost to the Blue Jackets. And that's not a concussion joke.

Prediction: Pittsburgh in five games

 

Frank Franklin II
New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers Schedule
GameDateTime (ET)HomeAwayTV
1Thurs., April 177 p.m.NYPHICNBC, TSN
2Sun., April 2012 p.m.NYPHINBC, TSN
3Tues., April 228 p.m.PHINYCNBC, TSN
4Fri., April 257 p.m.PHINYCNBC, TSN
5 (if needed)Sun., April 2712 p.m.NYPHINBC, TSN
6 (if needed)Tues., April 29TBDPHINYTSN
7 (if needed)Wed., April 30TBDNYPHITSN
NHL.com

Philadelphia could've really used home-ice advantage. This matchup is sure to be one of, if not the most intense in Round 1 due to two evenly matched teams.

New York boasts a defensive edge, allowing the fourth-fewest goals in the NHL while Philadelphia surrenders just the 19th fewest. But the Flyers own the offensive edge, scoring the 10th-most goals compared to the Rangers' No. 18 ranking.

This balance was apparent, as they split the season series 2-2. However, New York won their most recent battle on March 26 by the score of 3-1. Not this victory, though, but its eight straight wins against the Flyers at Madison Square Garden should fuel Rangers' fans confidence.

Prediction: New York in seven games

 

Alex Gallardo
Anaheim Ducks vs. Dallas Stars Schedule
GameDateTime (ET)HomeAwayTV
1Thurs., April 1710 p.m.ANADALNBC Sports, TSN
2Sat., April 1910 p.m.ANADALNBC Sports, TSN
3Mon., April 219:30 p.m.DALANANBC Sports, TSN
4Thurs., April 248 p.m.DALANACNBC, TSN
5 (if needed)Sat., April 2610:30 p.m.ANADALNBC Sports, TSN
6 (if needed)Mon., April 28TBDDALANATSN
7 (if needed)Wed., April 30TBDANADALTSN
NHL.com

Dallas' strength is its offense. It scored the ninth-most goals in the NHL this season. If matched up against a defensive juggernaut with an inefficient offense in Round 1, the Stars may have been able to outpace their foe to pull off the upset.

However, Anaheim is the least outpaceable team in the league. It boasts the highest-scoring offense, racking up 3.2 goals per game. Of course, Dallas fans will enter the playoffs unintimidated after their Stars went 2-1 against the Ducks in the regular season.

Dallas shutout Anaheim in its last meeting on Feb. 1, and it even scored six goals on Nov. 26. Those victories came months ago, though, and the Ducks—which finished with far more wins than the Stars—have been the better team all year.

Prediction: Anaheim in five games

 

Jeff Chiu
San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings Schedule
GameDateTime (ET)HomeAwayTV
1Thurs., April 1710:30 p.m.SJLANBC Sports, CBC
2Sun., April 2010 p.m.SJLANBC Sports, CBC
3Tues., April 2210 p.m.LASJNBC Sports, CBC
4Thurs., April 2410:30 p.m.LASJNBC Sports, CBC
5 (if needed)Sat., April 26TBDSJLANBC Sports, CBC
6 (if needed)Mon., April 28TBDLASJCBC
7 (if needed)Wed., April 30TBDSJLACBC
NHL.com

When the Sharks and Kings played in the 2013 Stanley Cup Western Conference Semifinal, the home team won every single game. Last year, Los Angeles had home-ice advantage and advanced. This year, San Jose does.

This isn't the only reason why the Sharks will edge the Kings in Round 1. While Los Angeles boasts the No. 1 scoring defense in the NHL, San Jose has a top-five defense as well. The Kings' offense doesn't matchup with the Sharks', though.

San Jose has four players—Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture—who have scored more than 50 goals this season. Los Angeles has one: Anze Kopitar.

The Kings defense will force a long series, especially considering they finished with a 3-1-1 record against the Sharks in the regular season. But San Jose's offensive edge will be the deciding factor.

Prediction: San Jose in seven games

 

Barry Gutierrez
Colorado Avalanche vs. Minnesota Wild Schedule
GameDateTimeHomeAwayTV
1Thurs., April 179:30 p.m.COLMINCNBC, TSN
2Sat., April 199:30 p.m.COLMINNBC Sports, TSN
3Mon., April 217 p.m.MINCOLNHL Network, TSN
4Thurs., April 249:30 p.m.MINCOLCNBC, TSN2
5 (if needed)Sat., April 26TBDCOLMINTSN
6 (if needed)Mon., April 28TBDMINCOLTSN
7 (if needed)Wed., April 30TBDCOLMINTSN
NHL.com

Minnesota needs a miracle to upset Colorado in Round 1. It has the defense to pull it off, though.

The Wild allow the sixth-fewest goals in the league, compared to the Avalanche, which only allow the 14th fewest. Minnesota needs this defense to play its best hockey all season against a fourth-ranked, Matt Duchene-led Colorado offense, which averages 3.0 goals per game.

However, in the regular season, the Avalanche overpowered the Wild. Colorado finished with a 4-0-1 record in the matchup, not making for much of a Western Conference rivalry.

Prediction: Colorado in five games

 

Charles Cherney
St. Louis Blues vs. Chicago Blackhawks
GameDateTimeHomeAwayTV
1Thurs., April 178 p.m.STLCHINBC Sports, CBC
2Sat., April 193 p.m.STLCHINBC, CBC
3Mon., April 218:30 p.m.CHISTLCNBC, CBC
4Wed., April 239:30 p.m.CHISTLNBC Sports, CBC
5 (if needed)Fri., April 258 p.m.STLCHINBC Sports, CBC
6 (if needed)Sun., April 273 p.m.CHISTLNBC, CBC
7 (if needed)Tues., April 29TBDSTLCHICBC
NHL.com

When April began, St. Louis was a Stanley Cup favorite. Two weeks later, its ability to win a game looks bleak.

The Blues have lost six straight contests. Over this stretch, their opponents outscored them 22-5. This includes a 4-2 loss to Chicago, which won both of its games against St. Louis after the turn of the calender year by a combined score of 8-2.

The Blues' David Backes, T.J. Oshie, Barret Jackman and Alex Pietrangelo are expected to return from injuries in Game 1, according to ESPN's Scott Powers. But goalie Ryan Miller has still allowed 14 goals in his last four starts. His cold streak and the Blackhawks' second-ranked scoring offense isn't a favorable combination for the Blues.

Prediction: Chicago in six games

 

David Daniels is a breaking news writer at Bleacher Report and news editor at Wade-O Radio.

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