NHL Playoffs 2014: Predictions for Saturday's Stanley Cup Round 2 Matchups

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NHL Playoffs 2014: Predictions for Saturday's Stanley Cup Round 2 Matchups
Elise Amendola/Associated Press

It's a swing game in Boston and a virtual must-win in Los Angeles in Saturday's NHL playoff conference semifinal games.

The Bruins avoided a 3-1 hole against the pesky Montreal Canadiens with a 1-0 overtime win in Game 4. The series is tied 2-2 as it returns to TD Garden, where the teams split Games 1 and 2 despite the Bruins dominating the play throughout both contests.

The Anaheim Ducks dropped the first two games of their series with the Kings but avoided trouble with a 3-2 victory in Game 3 on Thursday. They held on for the win despite an injury to starting goaltender Frederik Andersen, who left with a lower-body ailment in the third period and won't be available for Game 4.

Here are three storylines and a prediction for both games on the schedule Saturday.

 

Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens

Will Douglas Murray Be Scratched?

If you're the Canadiens, it's tough to justify his presence in the lineup after his Game 4 showing.

Murray was physical and selfless, leading the team in hits with six and adding four blocked shots. But that's more a product of him never having the puck and being forced to chase opponents.

Murray had a Corsi percentage of 16.7 in Game 4 and was caught inexplicably behind the net on the Bruins' OT goal. Coach Michel Therrien needs to get him out of the lineup ASAP.

 

Can Tuukka Rask Outplay Carey Price?

For three games, Price was the better goaltender. Rask was good, but he couldn't match Price.

Rask answered in a big way in Game 4, shutting down a Brian Gionta breakaway and a second chance from Gionta to keep the game scoreless, one game after he was beaten on a pair of breakaways.

Rask made all of the difficult stops (all of the stops, for that matter) in Game 4 and needs to do the same in Game 5.

 

Can the Lucic-Krejci-Iginla Line Produce?

They've been getting their chances but haven't been able to finish them for the most part in this series.

They have a combined two goals and two assists in four games, and David Krejci has just three assists in nine postseason games overall.

The Bruins are deep and can get scoring from anyone on their top three lines, but this would be a good time for this trio to step up.

 

Prediction: Boston 5, Montreal 1

Noah Graham/Getty Images

 

Los Angeles Kings vs. Anaheim Ducks

Can Jonas Hiller Save the Day?

Bruce Boudreau told the media that he went with Frederik Andersen in Game 3 because he was a better goaltender than Hiller at Staples Center.

With Andersen out, Hiller now has to take the ice knowing his coach didn't have enough confidence in him in the first place. Hiller allowed one goal in his brief time in net in Game 3, but he'll need to rise to the occasion in Game 4.

 

Can the Ducks Shut Down Anze Kopitar?

Kopitar has points in 10 straight playoff games, making him the first King since Wayne Gretzky in 1993 to have points in 10 straight games in the same postseason.

He's among the early favorites for the Conn Smythe Trophy with his excellent two-way play.

 

Can the Ducks Score at Five-on-Five?

Three of their past four goals in this series have come on the power play.

The key to beating goaltender Jonathan Quick is to use his aggressiveness against him by passing the puck laterally and quickly, which is far easier to do with the man advantage.

If the Ducks don't produce more at even strength, they could be on the brink of elimination following this game.

 

Prediction: Los Angeles 4, Anaheim 2

 

Dave Lozo covers the NHL for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter: @DaveLozo.

All statistics via NHL.com and Extra Skater.

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