The 2014 NHL playoffs kicked off with a wild first round, and the new postseason format has created several intriguing and unique second-round battles.
With fans looking for the latest predictions for their brackets, the marquee battles featured in both the Eastern and Western Conferences will satisfy even the most jaded hockey fans.
Here is a full list of second-round predictions and a focus on the most intriguing matchup.
Bracket via Maple Ridge Chrysler. Updated bracket via NHLPlayoffsBracket.com.
|2014 NHL Playoffs - Second-Round Predictions|
|Boston Bruins||vs.||Montreal Canadiens||Boston|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||vs.||New York Rangers||New York|
|Chicago Blackhawks||vs.||Minnesota Wild||Chicago|
|Anaheim Ducks||vs.||Los Angeles Kings||Los Angeles|
Can’t-Miss Second-Round Matchup: Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens
Of the four second-round matchups, the most enjoyment hockey fans will receive will be from the Eastern Conference battle between the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens.
After Montreal proved to have the talent to beat Boston in the regular season, the Canadiens came out in Game 1 of the second-round series and stunned the Bruins by winning in overtime in front of the raucous TD Garden crowd.
Boston managed to bounce back in Game 2 for a 5-3 victory, but with the series traveling back to Montreal, this battle is far from over. Bruins defenseman Torey Krug spoke to Matt Kalman of NHL.com about the team’s need to improve its consistency, especially on the power play:
We definitely have to improve. You know special teams win you hockey games. And their power play is showing up and our penalty kill's not, and our power play is struggling to find the back of the net. We're getting good looks, though. We have good movement and good momentum. But at the end of the day, in the playoffs that doesn't matter. You've got to score goals and I think we're on the verge of finding the back of the net, for sure.
One of the reasons behind Boston’s success in Game 2 was the ability to get pucks high on Montreal goaltender Carey Price, as Joe Haggerty of CSN New England reiterated:
Another key for the Bruins has been the elite play of their own netminder, Tuukka Rask. With five wins, a 1.71 goals-against average and a .939 save percentage, Rask deserves plenty of credit despite injuries to key defenders who normally play in front of him.
For the Canadiens, the offense has run through its defense and star P.K. Subban. The polarizing defender has racked up nine points (two goals and seven assists) and has showcased how big of a difference he can make in the postseason.
Add in Boston forwards like Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron getting hot at the right time, and unless Montreal forwards Thomas Vanek, Brian Gionta and Daniel Briere step up fast, the Canadiens will be eliminated by the Bruins.
Series Prediction: Boston wins 4-3
Stats via NHL.com.