NHL Playoffs 2014: First-Round Series Predictions and Updated Bracket Info

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistApril 23, 2014

Apr 6, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers center Claude Giroux (28) faces off against the Buffalo Sabres during the third period at Wells Fargo Center. The Flyers defeated the Sabres, 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The first round of the 2014 NHL playoffs have started off with a bang, and hockey fans are excited to watch how the remainder of the opening matchups play out.

There were gripes with how the new playoff system would be handled, but several marquee first-round battles, including Detroit against Boston, Los Angeles against San Jose and Philadelphia against New York, have been as exciting as the league could have imagined.

Here are the predictions for each first-round matchup and a preview of the series true hockey fans can’t afford to miss. For an updated Stanley Cup playoff bracket, check out NHLPlayoffsBracket.com.


First-Round Matchups and Predictions
Eastern Conference
First-Round Matchup Predicted Winner
Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red Wings Boston
Montreal Canadiens vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Montreal
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets Pittsburgh
New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers Philadelphia
Western Conference
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
Source: NHL.com


The Bracket


Must-Watch Series: New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers

One of the most interesting portions of the changes to the NHL postseason is the focus on divisional rivalries. None of the first-round matchups compare to the intensity and animosity that the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers have for each other.

New York took the first game of this series in Madison Square Garden by a score of 4-1. The Rangers scored three unanswered goals in the third period and looked to break the will of the road team.

Philadelphia bounced back with a convincing 4-2 victory on Sunday to even the series, bringing the nettle back to the Wells Fargo Center and the raucous Flyers fans. Instead of capitalizing on the momentum, the Flyers lost the first game at home, 4-1.

Now that the first three games of this Metropolitan Division showdown are complete, the only certainty is that this will be a long series full of physicality and offensive prowess. While both teams had strong goaltending coming into this series, it has turned into an unpredictable first-round matchup.

Philadelphia plays a physical style that can get under the skin of the New York players, and that will cause tension to rise with each passing game. The Flyers have the offensive edge in this series, but the Rangers have plenty of firepower as well.

Regardless of which team wins, this is the best first-round series of the 2014 playoffs.

Series Prediction: Philadelphia wins 4-3


*Stats via NHL.com.