While all the buzz is surroundin the NFL draft or the NBA playoffs, the NHL playoffs have quietly been epic once again, with four truly intriguing second-round matchups.
On Sunday, one of those matchups could be decided, while another wacky series will see a team take a pretty big advantage. And since you surely don't want to miss another game of the playoffs, below you'll also find the updated bracket and remaining schedule.
Enough of this draft business. Let's watch some hockey!
|Western||Chicago Blackhawks vs. Minnesota Wild (Tied 2-2)|
|Western||Anaheim Ducks vs. Los Angeles Kings (Tied 2-2)|
|Eastern||Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens (Bruins Lead 3-2)|
|Eastern||Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Rangers (Penguins Lead 3-2)|
|Sunday, May 11||7 p.m.||Pittsburgh at NY Rangers||NBCSN, CBC, RDS|
|Sunday, May 11||9 p.m.||Minnesota at Chicago||CNBC, TSN, RDS2|
|Monday, May 12||TBD||Boston at Montreal||NBCSN, CBC, RDS|
|Monday, May 12||10 p.m.||Los Angeles at Anaheim||NBCSN, TSN, RDS|
|*Tuesday, May 13||TBD||NY Rangers at Pittsburgh||CBC|
|Tuesday, May 13||TBD||Chicago at Minnesota||TSN|
|*Wednesday, May 14||TBD||Montreal at Boston||CBC, RDS|
|*Wednesday, May 14||TBD||Anaheim at Los Angeles||TSN|
|*Thursday, May 15||TBD||Minnesota at Chicago||TSN|
|*Friday, May 16||TBD||Los Angeles at Anaheim||TSN|
NHL.com (*If necessary)
We start with the Chicago Blackhawks taking on the Minnesota Wild, which has just been a wacky series thus far. The Blackhawks owned the first two games, winning by a combined total of 9-3 in Chicago. It appeared they were going to cruise to the conference finals.
But then the Minnesota Wild came roaring back, winning the next two games by a goal margin of 8-2. So, with both teams holding form at home, the series returns to Chicago for Game 5.
For what it's worth, Patrick Sharp of the Blackhawks isn't surprised by the Wild's resurgence, as he told Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune:
This isn't anything that we didn't expect. Minnesota is a great team and they're playing really well.
We have respect for what they can do as a team in all areas, not just defensively. They have some great offensive power. (But) we need to stop worrying about what they're so good at and use our strengths as well.
Added captain Jonathan Toews:
It's reflective of our intensity. They worked for their chances. They worked for everything they got. We have to do the same. We have to be better.
It's frustrating to not get a win the last two games on the road. We could have put ourselves in a great spot had we played the way we need to play. But we didn't.
This series is long from over. That's the good news. We have a chance to redeem ourselves and be better than we have been.
Going back to Chicago should help. And perhaps getting essentially knocked around by the Wild has woken the Blackhawks up. They should win Game 5, but if they fail to do so, it's hard to see the Wild letting go of the momentum they've established, or losing in Game 6.
You would expect the winner of Game 5 to win this series.
Sunday's other game sees the New York Rangers host the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6, with New York fresh off a 5-1 thrashing of the Penguins after facing elimination in Pittsburgh. The Penguins may have gotten wrecked, but at least they had the play of the game, as the NHL passed along on Twitter:
That's one heck of a goal.
As DJ Gallo of Sports Pickle joked, the Penguins perhaps didn't "show up" in Game 5:
The big advantage the Penguins have in the playoffs is that they never get tired because they regularly take nights off.— DJ Gallo (@DJGalloEtc) May 10, 2014
Keeping Sidney Crosby on track remains Pittsburgh's primary goal. He scored in Game 3 and added two assists in Game 4, but he put up a goose egg in Game 5. Crosby has continued to set up his teammates in these playoffs (eight assists) but he's scored just one goal.
Thus far, the Pens haven't needed him to score to win in these playoffs. But if he scores a goal or two in Game 6, it's hard to see the Rangers winning, even with home-ice advantage.
On the other hand, if the Rangers do win and force a Game 7, they'll have all the momentum in this series. And keep in mind, they've already won two of the three games in Pittsburgh in this series. You can bet the Penguins want to wrap this up on Sunday night.