In a not-so-shocking turn of events, the 2014 iteration of the Stanley Cup playoffs has done well in the face of the NBA playoffs and hype for the upcoming NFL draft.
Series that will go down in the lore of NHL playoff history have yet to conclude, and unlike its counterparts, hockey playoffs are both quality events and just the right amount of time over the course of the month.
As if fans can ever have too much playoff hockey.
This weekend's slate promises to up the ante as the first round nears conclusion, so let's take a look at the full schedule and dial in on two matchups to watch on Saturday.
|Flyers at Rangers (Game 5)||Sunday, April 27||12 p.m.||NBC|
|Rangers at Flyers (Game 6) *If necessary||Tuesday, April 29||TBD||TSN|
|Flyers at Rangers (Game 7) *If necessary||Wednesday, April 30||TBD||TSN|
|Blues at Blackhawks (Game 6)||Sunday, April 27||3 p.m.||NBC|
|Blackhawks at Blues (Game 7) *If necessary||Tuesday, April 29||TBD||CBC|
|Ducks at Stars (Game 6)||Sunday, April 27||8 p.m.||TSN|
|Stars at Ducks (Game 7) *If necessary||Tuesday, April 29||TBD||TSN|
|Red Wings at Bruins (Game 5)||Saturday, April 26||3 p.m.||NBC|
|Bruins at Red Wings (Game 6) *If necessary||Monday, April 28||TBD||TSN|
|Red Wings at Bruins (Game 7) *If necessary||Wednesday, April 30||TBD||TSN|
|Blue Jackets at Penguins (Game 5)||Saturday, April 26||7 p.m.||NBCSN|
|Penguins at Blue Jackets (Game 6)||Monday, April 28||TBD||CBC|
|Blue Jackets at Penguins (Game 7) *If necessary||Wednesday, April 30||TBD||CBC|
|Wild at Avalanche (Game 5)||Saturday, April 26||9:30 p.m.||NBCSN|
|Avalanche at Wild (Game 6) *If necessary||Monday, April 28||TBD||TSN|
|Wild at Avalanche (Game 7) *If necessary||Wednesday, April 30||TBD||TSN|
|Kings at Sharks (Game 5)||Saturday, April 26||10 p.m.||NBCSN|
|Sharks at Kings (Game 6) *If necessary||Monday, April 28||TBD||CBC|
|Kings at Sharks (Game 7) *If necessary||Wednesday, April 30||TBD||CBC|
Note: A full postseason bracket can be found here.
Breaking Down Saturday's Best Action
Red Wings at Bruins (Game 5)
This series has been a roller coaster through and through, with the most recent feat being an overtime victory for Boston in hostile territory to take a commanding 3-1 lead.
Jarome Iginla picked a heck of a time to notch his first career postseason overtime goal, one that came with 6:36 remaining in the first extra period in Game 4:
Detroit has been so close to seemingly maneuvering around the bigger and more physical Boston squad, especially after a stunning Game 1 upset on the road. After being swept at home, hope is beginning to fade. Ben Volin of the Boston Globe put it best:
Soul-crushing loss for the #RedWings. Get pumped for Bruins-Canadiens in the 2nd round— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) April 25, 2014
Which team wins Game 5?
It was easy to tell early on the Red Wings were more hungry than ever in Game 4 thanks to the return of Henrik Zetterberg, who scored 48 points in 45 regular-season games before succumbing to an injury, but even he couldn't help the somewhat finesse Red Wings offense get past Tuukka Rask.
Rask has a minimum of 23 saves in each of his four playoff games to date, with a high of 37 in Game 4. His performance will decide whether or not the series shifts back to Detroit at the start of next week.
Kings at Sharks (Game 5)
The Kings have life.
It was certainly hard to tell before Game 4, as the series between Darryl Sutter's team and the San Jose Sharks had the look of one of the postseason's most lopsided matchups.
Which team wins Game 5?
The Kings were abused in the first two contests, losing by a combined 13-5 before falling 4-3 via an overtime loss in Game 3.
The back-to-back Western Conference finalists got their act together to force Game 5 mostly thanks to a strong performance from netminder Jonathan Quick, who made 36 saves to help fans forget about his putrid performances in the games prior.
While it's great to see the Kings back in it after being punched in the mouth, the Sharks don't sound all that concerned. Sharks captain Joe Thornton suggests the game may not have been as lopsided as the final score indicates, per The Associated Press (via ESPN.com):
I don't necessarily think the scoreboard did us justice. I think we played a pretty solid game. I think they just got some more of the puck bounces tonight, but we showed a lot of fight. We came down here and did what we're supposed to do. Now we have to go home and do our job.
The same luck and fight-or-flight attitude is a must for the Kings as they enter hostile territory for the first time since being blown out of the water in the first two games of the series.
Quick has to be undeterred between the pipes if they are to stand a chance, but as the entire affair has showcased thus far, expect nothing short of another fireworks display.