There are many people who view the Stanley Cup playoffs as the most exciting postseason in sports and the 2014 edition of the first round has hardcore and casual fans alike excited about the competition.
Whether you support teams from the Eastern or Western Conferences, the intense action thus far has lived up to the lofty expectations placed upon this year’s postseason.
Here is the updated schedule and predictions for the entire first-round bracket.
|Full 2014 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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
After examining the complete first-round schedule, here are the latest predicted winners.
|First-Round Matchups and Predictions|
|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|
|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|
Monday’s Best Matchup: San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings
The San Jose Sharks started the first-round series with the Los Angeles Kings on fire offensively and took a decisive 3-0 lead. Two games later and the series enters Game 6 with San Jose desperately trying to hold off a Los Angeles team that has won two in a row.
The Sharks scored 17 goals through the first three games of the series and looked to be unstoppable offensively. Kings netminder Jonathan Quick has regained his composure, though, and San Jose has only scored three goals in the last two games.
Rich Hammond of the Los Angeles Register talked about how the San Jose fans have seen the team blow series leads before and are starting to grow weary of the team’s inability to put Los Angeles away:
San Jose head coach Todd McLellan told Josh Dubow of the Associated Press, via ABC News, about the play of his team in Game 5 and what they must do to win in Game 6:
We did a lot of good things for 3 1/2 games. Tonight was red rotten. That's simply put. When we started the series, we talked about leaving games behind, closing the book on it. There's no doubt we'll look at it. We have to improve. But it's put in the bank and we'll move on.
While the pace of the first three games was dictated by San Jose, Los Angeles has been able to turn the tide and has flipped momentum in its favor. Just as the Sharks offense was scoring at will to start the series, the Kings have scored nine goals over the last two games.
Led by the emergence of newly acquired forward Marian Gaborik, as well as standout play from centers Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter, Los Angeles has been able to stave off elimination as they continue building the ultimate comeback.
As long as Drew Doughty and the Kings defense continue to play stingy, there is no doubt that this series could go to a Game 7 in San Jose. At that point, anything can happen.
Series Prediction: San Jose wins 4-3
*Stats via NHL.com.