If there's a theme for the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs, it's that trying to make sense of anything that has happened before is going to give you a headache. That might be a little long for a theme, but look at all that we've seen before saying it's wrong.
We aren't even halfway through the second round of the postseason, yet there's already been a team come back from a 3-0 series deficit, another team score a game-tying goal in the last 10 seconds of a game before winning in overtime, the best player in the sport hasn't scored a goal and the best team in the regular season needed four goals in the third period to avoid a 2-0 hole in a recent semifinal series matchup.
Imagine what treats the NHL has in store for us with the conference semifinals getting into full swing, followed by the conference finals and Stanley Cup Final. There's almost too much hockey to keep your head straight.
In an effort to put some method to the madness, we've got a look at the bracket and odds for the conference semifinal matchups. There's also some tidbits you need to know for Monday's games.
Here's the updated 2014 NHL Playoff Bracket! Who are you cheering for? pic.twitter.com/mMAXLnnmLf— Maple Ridge Chrysler (@MapleRidgeCJD) May 1, 2014
|1||Canadiens beat Bruins, 4-3||May 1||7:30 p.m.||NBCSN|
|2||Bruins beat Canadiens, 5-3||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 beat Penguins, 3-2||May 2||7 p.m.||NBCSN|
|2||Pneguins beat Rangers, 3-0||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||Blackhawks beat Wild, 5-2||May 2||9:30 p.m.||NBCSN|
|2||Blackhawks beat Wild, 4-1||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 beat Ducks, 3-2||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|
Source: NHL.com. *Denotes if necessary
Monday's Odds and Ends
Los Angeles Kings at Anaheim Ducks (Kings lead series 1-0)
Odds and spread: Ducks (-1.5), Over/Under=Five
The first thing that jumps out about the spread for this game is how little respect Los Angeles' current run is getting. The Kings have won five consecutive games after falling behind 3-0 to San Jose in the first round, and Jonathan Quick has been outstanding during this winning streak.
Who will be the most important player in Monday's games?
If there's a way to justify favoring the Ducks, aside from the fact they are playing at home, it's because Los Angeles' Game 1 victory involved a lot of luck and being in the right place at the right time.
Marian Gaborik tied the game with just over seven seconds left in regulation and won it with a goal in overtime. Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller was fantastic up until those final seconds, ending the game with 33 saves on 36 shots faced.
The over/under seems high, but in 15 combined playoff games so far, the Kings and Ducks have broken the five-goal barrier four times. It would be foolish to expect a scoring barrage from either side because the goaltending has been so strong.
There is enough firepower for the Kings and Ducks to match the over/under, but don't expect more than a handful of goals in this game.
Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Rangers (Series tied 1-1)
Unfortunately, there are no odds listed for the Penguins-Rangers game on Odds Shark as of this writing.
Based on where things stand right now, even though the Rangers are at home, it's hard to see the Penguins as an underdog. They look like they are hitting their peak coming off a shutout victory in Game 2.
More specifically, Sidney Crosby looks like he's rounding into form. Even without a goal in the playoffs, Sid the Kid earned rave reviews from coach Dan Bylsma following the Game 2 victory, via Pro Hockey Talk.
I thought, almost to a man, our game was at another level tonight. The 50-50 battles we alluded to, Sid was every bit a leader in that regard for our team.
I think we’re looking for things on the offensive side of things on the stat sheet, but there was, on both sides, where it didn’t show up with an assist or a goal tonight. He was all around it on both ends of the rink for us and right up to the shot block at the end.
Crosby got six shots off in that victory, tied for his most in a postseason game this year.
Another problem the Rangers face is their increasing incompetence with a man advantage. They were a middle-of-the-pack team converting power plays into goals during the regular season, scoring 18.2 percent of the time, but have been held scoreless on their last 29 attempts.
Rick Nash is supposed to be the leader of New York's offense, but he hasn't scored a point since Game 3 against Philadelphia. It's a shame, too, because Henrik Lundqvist has given the Rangers a chance to win the first two games with 66 saves against 70 shots.
The Rangers have to fix at least some of their offensive woes in a hurry, since there isn't time to change all of them, or else this series is going to get out of hand.
Note: Odds and spreads courtesy of Odds Shark.
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