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NHL Playoff Bracket 2014: Updated Schedule and Predictions for Round 2 Slate

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 02:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins handles the puck against the New York Rangers in Game One of the Second Round of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on May 02, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Andrew GouldFeatured ColumnistMay 4, 2014

The NHL playoffs came out swinging in the opening round, treating fans to three seven-game series in sports' most exhilarating postseason.

Round 2 has a lot to live up to in order to keep the momentum rolling.

So far, so good.

Three of the initial five conference semifinal matchups needed overtime to settle the score.

The Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens kicked things off with double-overtime, with Montreal taking Game 1 before Boston gained its revenge with a five-goal onslaught to claim Game 2.

Only four teams can advance another step further to the Stanley Cup. Let's take a look at all the second round has to offer.

2014 NHL Playoffs Round 2 Schedule
EAST
GameMatchupDateTime (ET)TV
1Canadiens at BruinsMay 1Canadiens 4 Bruins 3Canadiens 1-0
2Canadiens at BruinsMay 3Bruins 5 Canadiens 3Series tied 1-1
3Bruins at CanadiensMay 67 p.m.NBCSN
4Bruins at CanadiensMay 87:30 p.m.NBCSN
5*Canadiens at BruinsMay 10TBDCBC
6*Bruins at CanadiensMay 12TBDCBC
7*Canadiens at BruinsMay 14TBDCBC
GameMatchupDateTime (ET)TV
1Rangers at PenguinsMay 2Rangers 3 Penguins 2Rangers 1-0
2Rangers at PenguinsMay 47:30 p.m.NBCSN
3Penguins at RangersMay 57:30 p.m.NBCSN
4Penguins at RangersMay 77:30 p.m.NBCSN
5*Rangers at PenguinsMay 9TBDCBC
6*Penguins at RangersMay 11TBDCBC
7*Rangers at PenguinsMay 13TBDCBC
WEST
GameMatchupDateTime (ET)TV
1Wild at BlackhawksMay 2Blackhawks 5 Wild 2Blackhawks 1-0
2Wild at BlackhawksMay 43 p.m.NBC
3Blackhawks at WildMay 69 p.m.CNBC
4Blackhawks at WildMay 9TBDTSN
5*Wild at BlackhawksMay 11TBDTSN
6*Blackhawks at WildMay 13TBDTBN
7*Wild at BlackhawksMay 15TBDTBN
GameMatchupDateTime (ET)TV
1Kings at DucksMay 3Kings 3 Ducks 2Kings 1-0
2Kings at DucksMay 510 p.m.NBCSN
3Ducks at KingsMay 810 p.m.NBCSN
4Ducks at KingsMay 10TBDTSN
5*Kings at DucksMay 12TBDTBN
6*Ducks at KingsMay 14TBDTBN
7*Kings at DucksMay 16TBDTBN
NHL.com, *= if necessary

 

Eastern Conference

Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens

BOSTON, MA - MAY 3: Milan Lucic #17 of the Boston Bruins collides with the boards against Mike Weaver #43 of the Montreal Canadiens in Game Two of the Second Round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on May 3, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Pho
Brian Babineau/Getty Images

When tasked to name sports' greatest rivalries, Yankees vs. Red Sox, Duke vs. North Carolina and Celtics vs. Lakers are among the usual suspects.

How about the Bruins and Canadiens?

These two squads have pages of history stored in the record books.

This marks the 34th time Boston and Montreal will meet in the postseason, leading Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin to refer to it as "probably the best rivalry in all of sports" to The Globe and Mail's Roy MacGregor.

They're off to a heated start after splitting the first two games in Boston. The Bruins nearly lost Game 2 before turning the engine on for four goals during an explosive, possible series-saving third period.

That's the Boston we've grown accustomed to seeing: the one that led the East with 3.1 goals scored per game and a plus-84 scoring differential during its 54-win season.

Montreal needs a heroic performance from goalie Carey Price to combat Boston's high-powered offense.

Shutting the Bruins down three times in the next five games is a tall order that he won't be able to fill.

Prediction: Bruins in 6

 

New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 2:  Chris Kunitz #14 of the Pittsburgh Penguins moves the puck in front of Anton Stralman #6 of the New York Rangers in Game One of the Second Round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on May 2, 2014 in Pittsburgh
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

With Henrik Lundqvist shielding the net, defense is a strong suit for the Rangers who ranked fourth with 2.3 goals allowed per game and third with an 85.3 penalty kill percentage.

Scoring, however, is another story.

Although they mustered up three four-goal efforts against Philadelphia, they played inconsistently throughout the seven-game series.

Their leading scorer, Rick Nash, has yet to earn a goal this postseason.

In his series preview, Sports Illustrated's Brian Cazeneuve stated the importance of Nash bursting out of his slump.

Rick Nash will have to get untracked at some point. The Rangers’ ace forward, a two-time 40-goal scorer, has one in his last 13 games, and none so far in the playoffs. He’s also been held scoreless in his last four outings. Though he does many other things well and can break down a defense when he gets in on New York’s forecheck, the Rangers will need offensive input from him if they expect to keep up with Pittsburgh’s big guns.

It's a battle of strength against strength, as Pittsburgh thrives off its sensational offense led by Sidney Crosby. The Penguins are especially potent on the power play, where they make opposing squads pay with an NHL-best 23.4 percent success rate.

Despite Pittsburgh's scoring edge, New York holds a considering advantage at goalie.

Look for New York to put up just enough points to prevail in another seven-game series on Lundqvist's shoulders.

Prediction: Rangers in 7

 

Western Conference

Anaheim Ducks vs. Los Angeles Kings

ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 03:  Goaltender Jonathan Quick #32 of the Los Angeles Kings gives up a goal by Matt Beleskey #32 of the Anaheim Ducks in the first period of Game One of the Second Round of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Honda Center on May 3, 2014
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The Kings escaped a bizarre first round, overcoming a 3-0 deficit to derail the San Jose Sharks. They'll have a much tougher go, however, in this one.

In a shocking sight, the NHL's season leaders in goals allowed coughed up 17 scores during the first three games of their opening-round tilt against San Jose.

They then outscored the Sharks 18-5 in the ensuing four matches.

Neither one tells the proper story of this team—a defensively stout squad with little offensive fire-power.

The Kings ranked 26th in goals scored and 27th in power play percentage—a major problem going up against one of the NHL's best offenses.

Los Angeles won an evenly contested Game 1 with an overtime goal from Marian Gaborik, but its first-round adventures prove that the first game is far from a do-or-die scenario in the NHL.

The Ducks prove too much to handle over the next six games, skating their way past Jonathan Quick in a tough second-round draw.

Prediction: Ducks in 7

 

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Minnesota Wild

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 2: Patrick Kane #88 of the Chicago Blackhawks turns to the fans after scoring against the Minnesota Wild in the third period in Game One of the Second Round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center on May 02, 2014 in Chicago
Bill Smith/Getty Images

Minnesota produced the biggest first-round stunner by upending the Colorado Avalanche in seven games. The upset knocked off the Central Division champions while giving Chicago home-ice advantage during the second round.

That's a welcome surprise for the Blackhawks, who went 27-7-7 at the United Center this season before winning all three of their first-round home games against the St. Louis Blues.

They also over-matched the Wild in Game 1, notching a 5-2 victory with a pair of goals from both Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell.

The Wild suffered a big blow when goalie Darcy Kuemper left Game 7 against Colorado, forcing them to turn to Ilya Bryzgalov in Game 1. Kuemper snatched the starting role this season and notched a .915 save percentage through 26 games.

While Bryzgalov is an experienced alternative, he has allowed 20 goals in his last five starts.

Against a Chicago team loaded with scoring options, that won't do.

Prediction: Blackhawks in 5

 

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