The hunt for the Stanley Cup makes for one of the most exciting postseasons in all of sports, and hockey fans are desperate to find all of the latest information on the four remaining series in the 2014 NHL playoffs.
With two marquee matchups in both the Eastern and Western Conferences—Chicago vs. Minnesota and Anaheim vs. Los Angeles in the West and Boston vs. Montreal and Pittsburgh vs. New York in the East—the resulting battles on the ice have lived up to the lofty expectations.
Here is the updated bracket information, the full second-round schedule and predictions.
Here's the updated 2014 NHL Playoff Bracket! Who are you cheering for? pic.twitter.com/mMAXLnnmLf— Maple Ridge Chrysler (@MapleRidgeCJD) May 1, 2014
Bracket via Maple Ridge Chrysler. Updated bracket via NHLPlayoffsBracket.com.
|Boston Bruins||vs.||Montreal Canadiens||Boston|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||vs.||New York Rangers||Pittsburgh|
|Chicago Blackhawks||vs.||Minnesota Wild||Chicago|
|Anaheim Ducks||vs.||Los Angeles Kings||Los Angeles|
After checking out the second-round predictions, here's the full schedule.
|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||Canadiens beat Bruins, 4-2||May 6||7 p.m.||NBCSN|
|4||Bruins at Canadiens||May 8||7:30 p.m.||NBCSN|
|5||Canadiens at Bruins||May 10||7 p.m.||NBCSN|
|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||Penguins beat Rangers, 3-0||May 4||7:30 p.m.||NBCSN|
|3||Penguins beat Rangers, 2-0||May 5||7:30 p.m.||NBCSN|
|4||Penguins at Rangers||May 7||7:30 p.m.||NBCSN|
|5||Rangers at Penguins||May 9||7 p.m.||NBCSN|
|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||Wild beat Blackhawks, 4-0||May 6||9 p.m.||CNBC|
|4||Blackhawks at Wild||May 9||9:30 p.m.||NBCSN|
|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 beat Ducks, 3-1||May 5||10 p.m.||NBCSN|
|3||Ducks at Kings||May 8||10 p.m.||NBCSN|
|4||Ducks at Kings||May 10||9:30 p.m.||NBCSN|
|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
Series to Watch: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Rangers
While each of the second-round series has appeal to hockey fans, the series everyone is talking about is the battle between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Rangers.
Which team wins the series?
The Penguins managed to win Game 2 at home, but there was serious concern with captain Sidney Crosby not scoring a goal. Pittsburgh turned the tide in Game 3, though, and took the victory for a 2-1 series lead.
After the Game 3 victory and scoring his first goal of the postseason in the process, Crosby told Craig Custance of ESPN, via ABCNews, about his feelings moving forward:
It's one game. Playoffs, you have to be able to turn the page quickly, but it's nice to finally score. I think you just try to believe that eventually they're going to go in. I thought [in Game 2] I had some really good chances, I think we all did. Sometimes when you're getting all those chances, you have to trust they're going to go in. That's the most important thing, is the chances.
SportsCenter’s Twitter account chronicled the Game 3 turnaround:
Sidney Crosby nets 1st goal of playoffs as Penguins beat Rangers, 2-0. Marc-Andre Fleury with back-to-back shutouts. pic.twitter.com/HgtWQZzLRj— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 6, 2014
The real star of this show has been Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury. After struggling in Game 1, Fleury stepped up his game in the second and third games and has strung together back-to-back shutouts.
During a period when top offensive star Crosby is in a serious slump, the fact that Fleury has stood on his head to keep the team alive is a testament for just how much he has improved in clutch moments.
Fleury has returned to the elite form that helped catapult Pittsburgh to the Stanley Cup before.
As Colin Moriarty of IGN pointed out, not every fan is happy with this series, though:
The ideal ending for this Rangers-Penguins series would be if Gary Bettman cancelled it so neither team could move on. #isles— Colin Moriarty (@notaxation) May 5, 2014
Despite the fans angry that their team didn’t make it this far, this is a dream matchup that is starting to get more physical with every passing shift. Neither team wants to lose, and that has resulted in both teams amping up the energy.
If Game 4 and 5 live up to the hype surrounding the first three installments in this series, this could be the best matchup of the entire 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Series Prediction: Pittsburgh 4-3
*Stats via NHL.com.