To say the 2014 NHL playoffs have been full of wild twists and turns may be a severe understatement. After all of the exhilarating action, overtime games and unexpected results, only four teams remain standing.
That number will decrease to two in short order.
As the Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens fight for a chance to hoist the coveted Stanley Cup, the intensity only continues to grow.
To ensure not a single faceoff is missed, let's take a look at the playoffs' remaining schedule and predict how each series is likely to unfold.
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Los Angeles Kings
|Blackhawks vs. Kings Viewing Information|
|Game||Date||Time (ET)||TV Info|
|4||Mon., May 26||9 p.m.||NBCSN|
|5||Wed., May 28||8 p.m.||NBCSN|
|6||Fri., May 30||9 p.m.||NBCSN|
|7||Sun., June 1||8 p.m.||NBCSN|
This has been a highly entertaining series through three games.
After the Blackhawks took Game 1, the Kings rallied in a big way, winning the next two games and earning a 2-1 series lead.
A tweet from theScore noted a resilient Game 3 win by Los Angeles:
The problem for Chicago thus far has been a struggling offense.
Through three games, Los Angeles has recorded more shots on goal in each contest. When the Blackhawks dump the puck into the Kings' zone, they have been having trouble generating a consistent threat.
Jonathan Toews continues to shine, but he'll need some additional support going forward. After the Blackhawks' Game 3 loss, defenseman Duncan Keith had this to say in a press conference with the Associated Press, via ESPN.com:
We all want to win in here, and Toews is obviously our captain and leader. He definitely led the way tonight, but we need everybody if we are going to beat this team and try to win one here. Toews came out and led the way. It's up to the rest of us to follow that.
Not only does Chicago need to generate more pressure in five-on-five situations, but the team has only scored on two of its 10 power-play attempts.
Given the Blackhawks' struggles on offense and on the road during the playoffs, the Kings have a solid chance of closing out this series with two of the next three games in Los Angeles.
Kings in six
New York Rangers vs. Montreal Canadiens
|Rangers vs. Canadiens Viewing Information|
|Game||Date||Time (ET)||TV Info|
|5||Tue., May 27||8 p.m.||NBCSN|
|6||Thu., May 29||8 p.m.||NBCSN|
|7||Sat., May 31||8 p.m.||NBCSN|
Things are looking bleak for the Canadiens, with Carey Price set to miss the remainder of this series.
Still, with the last two games being decided in overtime, Montreal still has plenty of fight left.
Dustin Tokarski was a revelation in goal for the team in Game 3, racking up 35 saves on 37 shots in Montreal's 3-2 victory.
After the game, he spoke of his comfort stepping into the starting role to the Associated Press, via ESPN.com: "I did everything I could. I played the same game all the way. I felt more comfortable as it went along. So [I'm] glad we overcame that late bounce and got the winner."
He put forth a solid effort once more in Game 4, though it's difficult to outduel Henrik Lundqvist. Both teams recorded 29 shots on goal in the game, but it was the experienced Lundqvist who remained stout into overtime.
It was Martin St. Louis who took advantage of Montreal's backup goaltender. A tweet from Sporting News depicts his celebration:
Even though P.K. Subban continues to play at a high level for Montreal, scoring on just one of 17 power-play attempts over the series speaks volumes for New York's ability to penalty kill.
If Montreal can't final a way around Lundqvist's defenses—especially on power plays—the odds will continue to stack against the team.
Rangers in six