The end of the NHL regular season has hockey fans across the world upset, but fans will enjoy the 2014 playoff schedule and the marquee matchups it has produced.
Whether you are a casual hockey fan or a diehard NHL fanatic, the first-round battles of this year’s postseason are a dream come true. With Boston squaring off against Detroit in an Original Six matchup and San Jose battling Los Angeles in a war for California, there are intriguing storylines in every series.
Here is the full schedule for the playoffs, full first-round predictions and a preview of the most intriguing first-round series.
For an updated NHL playoff bracket, check out NHLPlayoffsBracket.com.
|Remaining 2014 NHL Playoffs First-Round Schedule|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
Here are the predictions for every first-round matchup:
|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|
|First-Round Matchup||Predicted Winner|
|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|
Most Intriguing First-Round Series: St. Louis Blues vs. Chicago Blackhawks
While there are several intriguing battles to open the 2014 postseason, the most interesting battle will be the heated rivalry between the St. Louis Blues (52-23-7) and the Chicago Blackhawks (46-21-15).
Hockey fans have become accustomed to Chicago coming into a playoff matchup as the favorite to win it all, but St. Louis had a better overall season and has earned home-ice advantage in the series.
These two teams are extremely familiar with each other. They play in the same division (The Blues have a 3-2 series advantage.), and there is a long history between the two franchises, as St. Louis’ official Twitter account pointed out:
This series has all the earmarks of an instant classic, but a string of injuries has caused panic for many Blues fans. While David Backes, Brenden Morrow, Vladimir Tarasenko and T.J. Oshie all missed time late in the season, Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune shared that everyone except Patrik Berglund returned to practice on Thursday:
Backes is one of St. Louis’ best players, and as one of the leaders of the team, he understands how much emotion and animosity could come out of this physical matchup. He told Lou Korac of NHL.com about his perception of the series:
With Chicago getting back Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, according to Brian Hedger of NHL.com, the Blackhawks will have as much firepower as the Blues. The main advantage is the team’s experience in the playoffs with this core of players and the ability to bring home the Stanley Cup.
Despite Chicago’s recent postseason runs, St. Louis is the favorite in this series because of its ability to thrive in every situation. Whether it’s even strength, on the power play or on the penalty kill, the Blues will have the Blackhawks beat.
Led by goaltender Ryan Miller—who was acquired before the trade deadline—St. Louis plays a hard-nosed defensive style that doesn’t produce many mistakes. With Chicago lacking the physicality of the Blues, the series will force the Blackhawks to get back to basics.
This series should go seven games, but St. Louis is too fundamentally sound to lose.
Series Prediction: St. Louis Blues win 4-3
*All stats and information via NHL.com.