The NHL playoffs surge onward through the conference championships in the coming weeks, with familiar faces fighting for the right to advance just one more time for a bid at the Stanley Cup.
Like the rounds prior, the final divisional battles have been nothing short of epic on a team and individual level. It's what fans have come to expect through the years and the best postseason around promises to keep on giving.
Both series are still in the infancy stages, meaning the advantage can swing in either favor. Let's detail how Las Vegas feels about both and attempt to pick winners after a breakdown.
Eastern Conference Finals: New York Rangers vs. Montreal Canadiens
Series Record: New York leads 1-0
When: Monday, May 19
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Odds: Montreal -130 (via OddsShark.com)
Prediction: Rangers win Game 2, 4-1
A bitter rivalry got out of hand in the first game of what was expected to be a brutal, seven-game series.
Game 1 saw the New York Rangers emerge with a 7-2 victory after Montreal Canadiens netminder Casey Price left with a knee injury. ESPN Stats & Info notes that the blowout produced some historic marks for the road team:
Price and the Canadiens were only down 0-2 when the injury occurred, and the stellar goalie was coming off two major performances that helped to down the top-seeded Boston Bruins. His status for Monday night is up in the air, per coach Michel Therrien, via theScore:
If backup Peter Budaj if forced into action, this series will be over quickly. Price may give it a go, but as was on display in Game 1, he's no match for the Rangers and a rejuvenated Rick Nash if he's not 100 percent.
The Canadiens are a team that allowed a shots against per game average of 30.58 and thrive through their netminder. Going down 0-2 at home before heading to New York essentially seals the series.
Western Conference Finals: Chicago Blackhawks vs. Los Angeles Kings
Series Record: Chicago leads 1-0
When: Wednesday, May 21
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Odds: Chicago -145 (via Vegas Insider)
Prediction: Blackhawks win Game 2, 2-1
Something has to give in the rematch of last year's Western Conference finals.
The Los Angeles Kings know a thing or two about comebacks after coming back to beat the San Jose Sharks in Round 1 and the Anaheim Ducks in their last series, but the defending champs are a different story.
Chicago remains undefeated at home this postseason through seven games.
Oh, and make it six straight for the Blackhawks over the Kings.
As ESPN's Chris Fowler notes, the Blackhawks even had a goal rescinded, which in turn led to the Kings tying the game:
That they did en route to the victory. Much like the Canadiens, the Kings have to get better play from netminder Jonathan Quick, who faced just 20 shots and allowed three to slip past.
Even then it may not matter. With the way Jonathan Toews and Co. are playing through adversity and considering they clutch the home-ice advantage, the series may be already over unless the Kings have another magical comeback in them.
Don't count on it, especially on Wednesday night.
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