NHL Playoff Schedule 2014: TV Info and Predictions for 1st-Round Matchups

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NHL Playoff Schedule 2014: TV Info and Predictions for 1st-Round Matchups
USA TODAY Sports

The 2013-14 NHL regular season was full of incredible action, but the excitement is growing as the playoff schedule approaches. The intense hockey matchups will kick off on Wednesday, April 16.

With elite series in both the Eastern Conference and Western Conference—16 of the best teams in the NHL made the postseason—hockey fans around the world will be treated to a fierce competition for the Stanley Cup.

Here is all the vital viewing information for the entire first round of the 2014 NHL playoffs.

First-Round Matchups and Predictions
First-Round Matchup Predicted Winner
Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red Wings Boston
Montreal Canadiens vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Tampa Bay
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets Pittsburgh
New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers Philadelphia
Anaheim Ducks vs. Dallas Stars Anaheim
San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings San Jose
Colorado Avalanche vs. Minnesota Wild Colorado
St. Louis Blues vs. Chicago Blackhawks St. Louis

Source: NHL.com

Complete 2014 NHL Playoffs First-Round Schedule
Eastern Conference
Date Time (ET) Matchup Watch
Friday, April 18 7:30 p.m. Detroit at Boston NBCSN
Sunday, April 20 3 p.m. Detroit at Boston NBC
Tuesday, April 22 7:30 p.m. Boston at Detroit NBCSN
Thursday, April 24 8 p.m. Boston at Detroit NBCSN
*Saturday, April 26 3 p.m. Detroit at Boston NBC
*Monday, April 28 TBD Boston at Detroit N/A
*Wednesday, April 30 TBD Detroit at Boston N/A
Date Time (ET) Matchup Watch
Wednesday, April 16 7 p.m. Montreal at Tampa Bay CNBC
Friday, April 18 7 p.m. Montreal at Tampa Bay CNBC
Sunday, April 20 7 p.m. Tampa Bay at Montreal NBCSN
Tuesday, April 22 7 p.m. Tampa Bay at Montreal NHL Network
*Thursday, April 24 7 p.m. Montreal at Tampa Bay N/A
*Sunday, April 27 TBD Tampa Bay at Montreal NBCSN
Tuesday, April 29 TBD Montreal at Tampa Bay N/A
Date Time (ET) Matchup Watch
Wednesday, April 16 7:30 p.m. Columbus at Pittsburgh NBCSN
Saturday, April 19 7 p.m. Columbus at Pittsburgh NBCSN
Monday, April 21 7 p.m. Pittsburgh at Columbus NBCSN
Wednesday, April 23 7 p.m. Pittsburgh at Columbus NBCSN
*Saturday, April 26 TBD Columbus at Pittsburgh N/A
*Monday, April 28 TBD Pittsburgh at Columbus N/A
*Wednesday, April 30 TBD Columbus at Pittsburgh N/A
Date Time (ET) Matchup Watch
Thursday, April 17 7 p.m. Philadelphia at NY Rangers CNBC
Sunday, April 20 Noon Philadelphia at NY Rangers NBC
Tuesday, April 22 8 p.m. NY Rangers at Philadelphia CNBC
Friday, April 25 7 p.m. NY Rangers at Philadelphia CNBC
*Sunday, April 27 Noon Philadelphia at NY Rangers NBC
*Tuesday, April 29 TBD NY Rangers at Philadelphia N/A
*Wednesday, April 30 TBD Philadelphia at NY Rangers N/A
Western Conference
Date Time (ET) Matchup Watch
Thursday, April 17 9:30 p.m. Minnesota at Colorado CNBC
Saturday, April 19 9:30 p.m. Minnesota at Colorado NBCSN
Monday, April 21 7 p.m. Colorado at Minnesota NHL Network
Thursday, April 24 9:30 p.m. Colorado at Minnesota CNBC
*Saturday, April 26 TBD Minnesota at Colorado N/A
*Monday, April 28 TBD Colorado at Minnesota N/A
*Wednesday, April 30 TBD Minnesota at Colorado N/A
Date Time (ET) Matchup Watch
Thursday, April 17 8 p.m. Chicago at St. Louis NBCSN
Saturday, April 19 3 p.m. Chicago at St. Louis NBC
Monday, April 21 8:30 p.m. St. Louis at Chicago CNBC
Wednesday, April 23 9:30 p.m. St. Louis at Chicago NBCSN
*Friday, April 25 8 p.m. Chicago at St. Louis NBCSN
*Sunday, April 27 3 p.m. St. Louis at Chicago NBC
*Tuesday, April 29 TBD Chicago at St. Louis N/A
Date Time (ET) Matchup Watch
Wednesday, April 16 10 p.m. Dallas at Anaheim NBCSN
Friday, April 18 10 p.m. Dallas at Anaheim NBCSN
Monday, April 21 9:30 p.m. Anaheim at Dallas NBCSN
Wednesday, April 23 8 p.m. Anaheim at Dallas CNBC
*Friday, April 25 10:30 p.m. Dallas at Anaheim NBCSN
*Sunday, April 27 TBD Anaheim at Dallas N/A
*Tuesday, April 29 TBD Dallas at Anaheim N/A
Date Time (ET) Matchup Watch
Thursday, April 17 10:30 p.m. Los Angeles at San Jose NBCSN
Sunday, April 20 10 p.m. Los Angeles at San Jose NBCSN
Tuesday, April 22 10 p.m. San Jose at Los Angeles NBCSN
Thursday, April 24 10:30 p.m. San Jose at Los Angeles NBCSN
*Saturday, April 26 TBD Los Angeles at San Jose NBCSN
*Monday, April 28 TBD San Jose at Los Angeles N/A
*Wednesday, April 30 TBD Los Angeles at San Jose N/A

Source: NHL.com. (*if necessary) TV Info for extra games released as determined.

 

Most Underrated Matchup: San Jose vs. Los Angeles

USA TODAY Sports

When the San Jose Sharks (51-22-9) square off against the Los Angeles Kings (46-28-8), the Western Conference battle will steal the show as the best first-round matchup.

San Jose is one of the most gifted offensive teams in the league. The Sharks finished the league sixth in goals per game (2.9) and finished with three players totaling 70 points or more (Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau).

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As well as San Jose has played offensively, the major difference has been the commitment in the defensive zone in front of goalie Antti Niemi. After allowing only 2.4 goals per game during the regular season, the team finished fifth in that category.

Los Angeles was the No. 1 team in the league, allowing only two goals per game.

Led by elite two-way defender Drew Doughty—as well as a team-wide commitment to playing an aggressive forecheck—Los Angeles has made star goalie Jonathan Quick’s job much easier. With a matchup against the vaunted offensive unit of the Sharks, the Kings must continue to play the smart fundamental hockey they've become known for.

As The Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle commented on Twitter, this is one of the most exciting first-round matchups and may yield the eventual champion:

This isn’t just an intriguing matchup on the ice, though, as the two California fanbases collide in a nontypical postseason series. Sharks coach Todd McLellan told David Pollak of The Mercury News about what the battle means to hockey on the West Coast:

Three out of four years against L.A., California teams, Northern California versus Southern California, I think it's a real strong rivalry between the two cities -- not only in hockey, but we see it in baseball and other sports and it carries through. It's exciting for the fans in both cities. It's great for California hockey.

With the California hockey craze growing with each passing year, the success of both franchises and the budding rivalry it has spawned has created an organic excitement within the sport.

There is no doubt the NHL wants to push hockey on people from all over the world, but it takes years of developing animosity before it has the kind of history the Los Angeles and San Jose rivalry currently possesses.

When the Sharks play the Kings, the West Coast will be treated to the best series of the first round.

 

*All stats and information via NHL.com.

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