NHL Playoffs 2014: Predictions for Remaining 1st-Round Series on Bracket

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistApril 25, 2014

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby plays against the Columbus Blue Jackets during Game 4 of a first-round NHL playoff hockey series Wednesday, April 23, 2014, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
Jay LaPrete

The NHL playoffs never disappoint, and this year is just another example of that. Just about every series thus far has been tightly contested, and even those that have been one-sided have provided a few excellent games. 

We've got a long way to go, it seems, before the second round is upon us, but that doesn't mean we can't drop a few predictions based on how the series have gone thus far.

Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red WingsBruins
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue JacketsPenguins
New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia FlyersFlyers
Colorado Avalanche vs. Minnesota WildAvalanche
St. Louis Blues vs. Chicago BlackhawksBlues
Anaheim Ducks vs. Dallas StarsDucks
San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles KingsSharks

There has been plenty of madness and excitement thus far in the first round of the NHL playoffs, but nothing has been as wild and crazy as the series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets. The series is now tied at two games apiece and every single game has been decided by a 4-3 score. 

That's just wacky. And it gets even odder, per ESPN Stats and Info:

At this point, trying to predict which team will prevail in this series is about as predictable as Warren Buffet's perfect bracket challenge. On paper, at least, the Penguins appear to be the more talented team, so we'll stick with them, but there isn't another series crazier than this one. 

Of course, the three series continuing on Friday are all quite tight. The Philadelphia Flyers find themselves in almost a must-win position at this point, needing a home win to even the series. And if you ask Claude Giroux, well, the Flyers are going to get that win.

From Adam Kimelman of NHL.com:

The Rangers are no pushovers, of course, but the return of Steve Mason in net could be just what the doctor ordered for Philly the rest of the way in this series. And he's certainly ready to go, as he told Flyers TV (via the team's official Twitter account):

And then there are the two series tied 2-2 out West that will each play a pivotal Game 5 on Friday, with the St. Louis Blues facing the Chicago Blackhawks and the Dallas Stars taking on the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks have to be kicking themselves right now, having led the series 2-0 and leading Game 4 2-0 before the Stars came roaring back, scoring four unanswered goals. 

So why pick the Ducks to ultimately prevail?

Well, because momentum is the next day's starting pitcher—er, in this case, the next day's goalie—and, more importantly, because the Ducks still have home-ice advantage.

Nam Y. Huh

It's essentially the same argument for St. Louis, as it won both of its games in this series at home (albeit in overtime) in a wild series that has required extra time for three of the games. If the Pittsburgh and Columbus series has been the craziest, the Blues and Blackhawks have been embroiled in the longest one.

Neither of these teams deserves to lose. Unfortunately for Chicago, it will.