The opening salvo of the chase for the Stanley Cup this year was one that quickly reminded the globe why the NHL playoffs are the best the sporting world has to offer.
Numerous overtime affairs, star showcases and more were the story seemingly every night during Round 1.
Believe it or not, Round 2 promises to be just as good.
An old rivalry is rekindled and some of the best matchups fans could ask for are set to commence. Here's a look at the full slate.
|1||Canadiens at Bruins||May 1||7:30 p.m.||NBCSN|
|2||Canadiens at Bruins||May 3||12:30 p.m.||NBC|
|3||Bruins at Canadiens||May 6||7 p.m.||NBCSN|
|4||Bruins at Canadiens||May 8||7:30 p.m.||NBCSN|
|5*||Canadiens at Bruins||May 10||TBD||TBD|
|6*||Bruins at Canadiens||May 12||TBD||TBD|
|7*||Canadiens at Bruins||May 14||TBD||TBD|
|1||Rangers at Penguins||May 2||7 p.m.||NBCSN|
|2||Rangers at Penguins||May 4||7:30 p.m.||NBCSN|
|3||Penguins at Rangers||May 5||7:30 p.m.||NBCSN|
|4||Penguins at Rangers||May 7||7:30 p.m.||NBCSN|
|5*||Rangers at Penguins||May 9||TBD||TBD|
|6*||Penguins at Rangers||May 11||TBD||TBD|
|7*||Rangers at Penguins||May 13||TBD||TBD|
|1||Wild at Blackhawks||May 2||9:30 p.m.||NBCSN|
|2||Wild at Blackhawks||May 4||3 p.m.||NBC|
|3||Blackhawks at Wild||May 6||9 p.m.||CNBC|
|4||Blackhawks at Wild||May 9||TBD||TBD|
|5*||Wild at Blackhawks||May 11||TBD||TBD|
|6*||Blackhawks at Wild||May 13||TBD||TBD|
|7*||Wild at Blackhawks||May 15||TBD||TBD|
|1||Kings at Ducks||May 3||8 p.m.||NBCSN|
|2||Kings at Ducks||May 5||10 p.m.||NBCSN|
|3||Ducks at Kings||May 8||10 p.m.||NBCSN|
|4||Ducks at Kings||May 10||TBD||TBD|
|5*||Kings at Ducks||May 12||TBD||TBD|
|6*||Ducks at Kings||May 14||TBD||TBD|
|7*||Kings at Ducks||May 16||TBD||TBD|
NHL.com; *Denotes if necessary
Penguins vs. Rangers
Some series are simply more important than others when it comes to a postseason where there is so much great action and a limited amount of time fans can commit to watching.
When the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers step on the ice, it's one fans need to catch. Star power in the form of Sidney Crosby, Rick Nash and Henrik Lundqvist will reel in the casual viewers, but hardcore fans understand how evenly matched both sides are.
The Penguins and Rangers split the season series 2-2 and each won once in regulation at home and once via a shootout on the road.
Still, one would think history will have a say in the proceedings this postseason, as Steve Mears of NHL Network illustrates:
Depth was a major key for the Rangers in the regular season against the Penguins, and that will have to be the case once more as the series kicks off in Pittsburgh.
That may be an issue for New York coming off a seven-game series against Philadelphia, but Pittsburgh was known for shooting itself one too many times in the foot during the regular season.
Given the history between the two and recent matchups, it's easy to see this one going to seven games. Don't miss out.
Ducks vs. Kings
Few things are better than an in-state rivalry.
Sprinkle in a little postseason and things get even better—especially considering the two sides have never met with so much at stake. Believe it or not, the implications run even deeper than that, as Michael Farber details:
Ducks-Kings first SoCal playoff meeting. No Rams-Chargers. No Rams-L.A. Raiders. No Lakers-Clips. No Angels-Dodgers.— Michael Farber (@MichaelFarber3) May 1, 2014
Kings President of Business Operations Luc Robitaille told Brian Compton of NHL.com he believes the series will help to further the league as a whole:
This highly anticipated Kings-Ducks playoff series will capture the excitement and the imagination of the most casual hockey and sports fan in Southern California in addition to our loyal, die-hard Kings fans. We believe this series can help continue to spur even more interest in our great sport in our great city.
As John Buccigross of ESPN points out, this was an ugly series for one side in the regular season:
Kings play Ducks next; 1-3-1 regular season vs Ducks, only win was in a shootout, were held to 0 goals or 1 goal in 3 of the 5 games— John Buccigross (@Buccigross) May 1, 2014
Still, both sides have looked a bit strange so far. The Anaheim Kings struggled with the Dallas Stars to start their postseason, and the Los Angeles Kings had to come back from a 3-0 deficit and an offensive onslaught from the San Jose Sharks.
This one screams that fans should side with the Ducks based on the regular season, but that same suffocating defense that shut down the Sharks—led by elite goalie Jonathan Quick—is something to admire.
In the opposite net is goalie Frederik Andersen, who has been mediocre at best. If no goalies step up for the Ducks, it may be a short series. Either way, gritty, defensive hockey isn't a bad thing.