The NHL playoffs had everything a fan could ask for in Round 1: a historic comeback—courtesy of the Los Angeles Kings—plenty of overtime thrillers and a few series that had some highly memorable Game 7 action.
The updated bracket for the Stanley Cup playoffs can be found in all its glory at NHL.com.
Round 2 features a historic Southern California playoff matchup between the Kings and the Anaheim Ducks. Michael Farber drives the point home:
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
With the bracket in place, here is the TV lineup for the Round 2 so not a second of excellent hockey action is missed.
|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|
|2||Wild at Blackhawks||May 4||9:30 p.m.||NBCSN|
|3||Blackhawks at Wild||May 6||3 p.m.||NBC|
|4||Blackhawks at Wild||May 9||9 p.m.||CNBC|
|5||Wild at Blackhawks||May 11||TBD||TBD|
|6||Blackhawks at Wild||May 13||TBD||TBD|
|7||Wild at Blackhawks||May 15||TBD||TBD|
|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|
|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|
nhl.com, *if necessary
Now that the schedules are accounted for, let's take a look at a couple of key players who will have big impacts during their respective series in Round 2.
Players to Watch
Thomas Vanek, Montreal Canadiens
Vanek has been a nightmare for the Bruins throughout his career, scoring 30 goals and putting up 62 total points in 55 career games against Boston. His production on the left wing is going to be key to the Canadiens unlocking the Bruins blue-line guys.
However, Vanek had little impact in Game 1 of the series, although the Habs still beat the Bruins 4-3 in double overtime, thanks to a goal by P.K. Subban.
Elliotte Friedman of CBC Sports noted Vanek's diminished ice time in Game 1 of the series.
Vanek 12:22...lowest ice-time he's had in a game since coming to MON is 15:29...not sure if benching or hurting— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) May 2, 2014
Brian Wilde of CTV News in Montreal believes Vanek, among others, is key to the Canadiens' chances against the Bruins.
This simply cannot be won now or in the next two weeks without the participation of Vanek Pacioretty and Desharnais. Outplayed every shift.— BrianWilde (@BWildeCTV) May 2, 2014
Boston has a strong defense, as it gave up just 2.08 goals per game during the regular season. The prior production of Vanek bodes well for the Canadiens, but he will have to get himself more shots on the net than he did against the Tampa Bay Lightning in order to fulfill his expectations as a Bruin beater.
Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
Whichever version of Quick shows up each night to mind the net might determine the freeway series in Southern California between the Kings and the Ducks.
Quick was a leaky sieve in the first three games of the opening series against the San Jose Sharks. He gave up a total of 16 goals with a lowly .851 save percentage. But the former Conn Smythe Trophy winner turned things around and became nearly impenetrable as the series wore on, and his teammates came roaring back to complete their historic comeback.
In the Kings' four consecutive wins, he gave up just five goals, including a stunning Game 5 shutout, complete with 30 saves.
Kings defenseman Drew Doughty acknowledged his teammates could take some of the blame for Quick's performance but had high praise for him after Game 5. Via Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News:
"We counted on him, and he made big saves," Doughty said. "But at the same time, the team's playing better in front of him. I thought it was probably our best defensive game so far this series, and we don't want Quickie to have to stand on his head every night."
His beauty of a save against Patrick Marleau in Game 7 cemented his return to imperious form.
Expect Quick to have a big, gloved hand in the outcome of the highly anticipated freeway series.