NHL Playoff Matchups 2014: Updated Schedule and Latest Bracket Predictions

Donald Wood@@Donald_WoodFeatured ColumnistApril 28, 2014

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 27: Ryan McDonagh #27 of the New York Rangers hits Claude Giroux #28 of the Philadelphia Flyers in Game Five of the First Round of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on April 27, 2014 in New York City. The Rangers defeated the Flyers 4-2.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

There was never a question of if the NHL postseason would live up to expectations, but the matchups spawned by the formatting changes to the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs have been some of the most entertaining in years.

With Original Six franchises going head-to-head and divisional rivals from all across the league doing battle, hockey fans have been treated to a postseason experience that has been full of intense competition.

Here are the complete matchups and predictions, the first-round bracket and the entire schedule.


First-Round Matchups and Predictions
Eastern Conference
First-Round Matchup Current Series Results Predicted Winner
Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red Wings Boston won 4-1 Boston
Montreal Canadiens vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Montreal won 4-0 Montreal
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets Pittsburgh leads 3-2Pittsburgh
New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers New York leads 3-2Philadelphia
Western Conference
First-Round Matchup Current Series Results Predicted Winner
Anaheim Ducks vs. Dallas Stars Anaheim won 4-2Anaheim
San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings San Jose leads 3-2 San Jose
Colorado Avalanche vs. Minnesota Wild Colorado leads 3-2 Colorado
St. Louis Blues vs. Chicago Blackhawks Chicago won 4-2Chicago
Source: NHL.com


The Bracket

For an updated NHL playoff bracket, check out NHLPlayoffsBracket.com.


Remaining 2014 First-Round Schedule
Eastern Conference
Date Time (ET) Matchup Watch
Monday, April 287 p.m.Pittsburgh at Columbus NBCSN
*Wednesday, April 30 TBD Columbus at Pittsburgh TBD
Date Time (ET) Matchup Watch
*Tuesday, April 29 7:30 p.m.NY Rangers at Philadelphia NBCSN
*Wednesday, April 30 TBD Philadelphia at NY Rangers TBD
Western Conference
Date Time (ET) Matchup Watch
*Monday, April 28 9 p.m.Colorado at Minnesota CNBC
*Wednesday, April 30 TBD Minnesota at Colorado TBD
Date Time (ET) Matchup Watch
*Monday, April 28 10 p.m.San Jose at Los Angeles NBCSN
*Wednesday, April 30 TBD Los Angeles at San Jose TBD
Source: NHL.com


Best Remaining Series: New York vs. Philadelphia

Many of the first-round matchups have already concluded, but there are still several marquee battles to decide which teams advance to the next round.

The best remaining series is the battle between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers.

After New York dominated Game 1 by a score of 4-1, Philadelphia bounced back to steal the show in Game 2 by a score of 4-2. The series shifted back to the Flyers' home building for Games 3 and 4, and the two teams once again split the victories.

With the series tied 2-2, the Rangers managed to dominate most of Game 5, winning by a score of 4-2. Philadelphia looked strong at moments, but was ultimately out-hustled by New York.

Former Flyer and current analyst Rick Tocchet forecasted why Philadelphia lost Game 5:

Flyers forward Vinny Lecavalier told Mike Sielski of the Philadelphia Inquirer about the team’s struggles with consistency in Game 5 and throughout this series:

It was more the quick-execution plays. The passes were maybe a little off, or sometimes for you to get a goal, you need to make two or three good passes in a row to get an opening for that shot. It seemed that we couldn't get that.

The biggest issue for Philadelphia was goalie Steve Mason.

As well as he has played this season, he only managed to stop 18 of 21 shots he faced on Sunday, and that simply isn’t good enough when competing against a star across the ice like Henrik Lundqvist.

Add in the continued success of New York’s top goal scorers like Martin St. Louis, Brad Richards and Rick Nash, and the Flyers will once again have to hope captain Claude Giroux comes out of his slump and puts the team on his back with a masterful offensive performance.

If Philadelphia can put it all together in Game 6 on Tuesday and force a Game 7 the following night, the mental edge the victory would produce across the depth chart would give the team an advantage heading back to New York.

As if the party in Philadelphia wasn’t going to be raucous enough on Tuesday for Game 6, ESPN's Adam Rubin notes the sports complex in the City of Brotherly Love will be buzzing with distaste for New York:

Unless you are a Rangers fan, you are likely rooting for the Flyers to win Tuesday’s battle at home and force a Game 7. With a winner-take-all stipulation for the final game of the series, the potential battle between New York and Philadelphia would be can’t-miss TV.

With two other possible Game 7s scheduled for WednesdayLos Angeles and Minnesota must win Mondayhockey fans could be in for the greatest night of the year.

Predicted winner: Philadelphia


Stats via NHL.com.