The second round of the 2014 NHL playoffs is in full swing, and teams' Stanley Cup aspirations are either growing or shrinking by the period.
For the most part, the four series in Round 2 have been pretty competitive. Only the Los Angeles Kings have yet to drop a game, though the Anaheim Ducks will be looking for redemption in Game 3.
The Montreal Canadiens have been the surprise of the playoffs thus far. They currently hold a 2-1 series lead over the Boston Bruins, the No. 1 seed in the East.
There's still plenty of hockey to play, however.
Here's an updated playoff schedule along with updated Stanley Cup odds, via Odds Shark, to ensure that you aren't behind on any of the latest NHL action.
|2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs Schedule|
|1||Canadiens at Bruins||May 1||Canadiens 4 Bruins 3||Canadiens 1-0|
|2||Canadiens at Bruins||May 3||Bruins 5 Canadiens 3||Series tied 1-1|
|3||Bruins at Canadiens||May 6||Canadiens 4 Bruins 2||Canadiens 2-1|
|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 at Penguins||May 2||Rangers 3 Penguins 2||Rangers 1-0|
|2||Rangers at Penguins||May 4||Penguins 3 Rangers 0||Series tied 1-1|
|3||Penguins at Rangers||May 5||Penguins 2 Rangers 0||Penguins 2-1|
|4||Penguins at Rangers||May 7||Penguins 4 Rangers 2||Penguins 3-1|
|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||Wild at Blackhawks||May 2||Blackhawks 5 Wild 2||Blackhawks 1-0|
|2||Wild at Blackhawks||May 4||Blackhawks 4 Wild 1||Blackhawks 2-0|
|3||Blackhawks at Wild||May 6||Wild 4 Blackhawks 0||Blackhawks 2-1|
|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 at Ducks||May 3||Kings 3 Ducks 2||Kings 1-0|
|2||Kings at Ducks||May 5||Kings 3 Ducks 1||Kings 2-0|
|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|
|NHL.com, *Denotes if necessary|
|2014 Stanley Cup Odds|
|Los Angeles Kings||+405|
|New York Rangers||+1620|
|OddsShark.com as of May 7|
The Chicago Blackhawks had a commanding 2-0 lead in the series before a four-goal outburst from the Minnesota Wild in the third period of Game 3 saw them lose their first game. Suddenly, the Blackhawks appear vulnerable.
Brian Hamilton of SI.com says the push from the Wild was as predicted:
Some sort of push-back against Chicago was expected, and this was at least the effort that Minnesota needed. the Wild got reliable goaltending from Ilya Bryzgalov and the players who were expected to produce actually produced. That was more than enough. Now Chicago will test how long Minnesota can keep it going.
Ilya Bryzgalov was brilliant in the shutout, but will he be able to keep it up against the potent offense of the Blackhawks? That's really the biggest thing to pay attention to moving forward. Given all their firepower, Chicago should be able to cruise through the rest of the series. That said, Bryzgalov's performance in Game 3 showed that there is still hope for Minnesota.
According to Hamilton, the Blackhawks have lost the first road game of nine straight playoff series, so maybe the loss was even more predictable than we were anticipating. Regardless, they'll need to bounce back in Game 4 in order to maintain control of the series.
Los Angeles Kings
Stop me if you've heard this before—Jonathan Quick was stifling in net in the Kings' most recent win. The Ducks had no answer for Quick and the Kings defense, netting just one goal and dropping Game 2 of the series.
The road to the Kings' 2-0 series lead has been remarkable, as CBS Sports points out:
Dwight King added an empty-net goal for Los Angeles, which has won six straight postseason games and is halfway to its third straight trip to the Western Conference finals. Less than two weeks ago, the Kings were down 0-3 in their first-round series against San Jose.
Despite the slow start to the postseason, the Kings are still in great position to represent the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup Final. They'll be a formidable opponent for whichever team represents the East, as their blend of strong skaters and dominant defenders can overwhelm anyone.
P.K. Subban has been unbelievable in the 2014 playoffs.
He has notched two points in each of the three games of the series against the Bruins while boasting a total of 11 points in seven playoff games so far. Expect that points total to keep rising, as he is playing at an entirely other level right now.
Subban doesn't want all the credit for himself, however, as he told Bill Beacon of The Canadian Press (via the National Post) that it has been a team effort:
We’re playing well as a team. I’m just the beneficiary of the guys playing well around me, supporting me.
It starts in goal. Well, it actually starts with our coaching staff and making sure everybody is feeling confident. We’re doing it together. It starts with Pricey [Carey Price]. From our defence to our forwards. We’re sticking together. When we had adversity, we’re sticking together doing the right things.
It appears as if the Canadiens will continue to go as Subban goes. They currently have a 2-1 series lead over the Bruins, and taking Game 4 would really put Boston in a hole that would be difficult to get out of.
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