The 2014 NHL playoffs kicked off with a wild first round, but the heated battles only intensified in the second round as fans have been treated to great hockey in both the Eastern and the Western Conferences.
With plenty of action reaming in the second round and beyond as each remaining team hunts for the Stanley Cup, hockey fans from across the world are being treated to an unforgettable postseason.
Here is the updated bracket, the results from each second-round series thus far and the remaining schedule for the 2014 NHL playoffs.
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.
|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 beat Canadiens, 1-0||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 beat Rangers, 4-2||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||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 beat Ducks, 3-1||May 5||10 p.m.||NBCSN|
|3||Ducks beat Kings, 3-2||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: Chicago Blackhawks vs. Minnesota Wild
The Chicago Blackhawks absolutely ran through the Minnesota Wild through the first two games of the series, but the Wild bounced back with an incredible 4-0 performance in Game 3 and look to have turned the momentum in their favor.
Chicago looked destined for a sweep through Games 1 and 2, outscoring Minnesota 9-3 and utterly dominating them in every facet of the game. With the home-ice advantage in Game 3, the Wild benefited from the ability to change lines last, shutting down the Blackhawks' top scorers.
Minnesota’s Zach Parise spoke to Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times about the difference that playing at home has on each team:
It makes a difference, yeah. I think that’s why you see throughout the playoffs, a lot of the home teams have been so successful this year. But either way, regardless of who you’re playing against, as a group we all have to be better individually.
There is no denying the offensive talent of the Blackhawks. With Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and the rest of the deep roster looking to bounce back from an embarrassing loss, the intensity throughout the remainder of this series will be a serious factor.
As if on cue, hard-hitting forward Matt Cooke will be returning from a seven-game suspension for a knee-on-knee hit. According to Minnesota head coach Mike Yeo, via Kevin Falness of Wild Radio, Cooke will be available in Game 4:
Yeo on Matt Cooke: "I would expect him back in the line up." returns from suspension for Game 4— Kevin Falness (@RadioFalness) May 7, 2014
This series has been a classic example of two teams executing plays without having too much animosity. While there were rough moments in the first two games, there was an entirely different feel to Game 3.
Which team will win this series?
It is clear that home-ice advantage has been a real factor in the series thus far (the road team has lost each game), and that should continue in Game 4 and beyond.
With the Wild proving to be tough at the Xcel Energy Center and the Blackhawks dominating in front of the raucous Chicago crowd, this series has all the earmarks of going seven games.
For hockey fans, that’s the perfect scenario.
Series Prediction: Chicago wins, 4-3
Stats via NHL.com.