The 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs were expected to be a great showcase of why fans love hockey so much, and the action on the ice through the first two rounds and into the conference finals has everyone excited.
While many Americans are thinking about Memorial Day on Monday and the servicemen and servicewomen who gave their lives for this nation, there is an amazing matchup between the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks on the schedule for today.
Here is all the updated schedule information, full championship odds and a focus on Monday’s matchup.
|1||Rangers beat Canadiens, 7-2||May 17||8 p.m.||NBCSN|
|2||Rangers beat Canadiens, 3-1||May 19||8 p.m.||NBCSN|
|3||Canadiens beat Rangers, 3-2||May 22||8 p.m.||NBCSN|
|4||Rangers beat Canadiens, 3-2||May 25||8 p.m.||NBCSN|
|5||New York Rangers at Montreal Canadiens||May 27||8 p.m.||NBCSN|
|6*||Montreal Canadiens at New York Rangers||May 29||8 p.m.||NBCSN|
|7*||New York Rangers at Montreal Canadiens||May 31||8 p.m.||NBCSN|
|1||Blackhawks beat Kings, 3-1||May 18||3 p.m.||NBC|
|2||Kings beat Blackhawks, 6-2||May 21||8 p.m.||NBCSN|
|3||Kings beat Blackhawks, 4-3||May 24||8 p.m.||NBC|
|4||Chicago Blackhawks at Los Angeles Kings||May 26||9 p.m.||NBCSN|
|5||Los Angeles Kings at Chicago Blackhawks||May 28||8 p.m.||NBCSN|
|6*||Chicago Blackhawks at Los Angeles Kings||May 30||9 p.m.||NBCSN|
|7*||Los Angeles Kings at Chicago Blackhawks||June 1||8 p.m.||NBCSN|
Source: NHL.com. *if necessary
Now that you've seen the full schedule, here are the championship odds for each remaining team:
|New York Rangers||207-100||+207|
|Los Angeles Kings||43-25||+172|
Source: Odds Shark
Breaking Down Monday’s Marquee Matchup
The Western Conference Final between the Los Angeles Kings and the Chicago Blackhawks has been the most entertaining series thus far, and Monday’s game will be a huge determining factor in which team will walk out of the third-round matchup victorious.
Which team will win Monday's game?
Since the Blackhawks' victory, the series has shifted in favor of Los Angeles. With a unique mix of timely scoring from all three top lines, elite defensive play led by Drew Doughty and a star in net like Jonathan Quick, the Kings are proving they’re championship material.
For Chicago to bounce back in this matchup, the team must find scoring for top stars like Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp. With just 17 combined points in 15 postseason games thus far, Kane and Sharp must step up to keep the franchise alive.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville told Shawn Roarke of NHL.com about the performance of Kane and how he believes the talented forward had opportunities thus far:
I think [Kane] had a great look both games. Right down the barrel, [he] could've given us a two-goal lead both times. He's had some opportunities. He's accustomed to scoring. For guys who are scorers, they get more excited, more confidence and their play can elevate by looking at production.
Kaner, to me, he's dangerous. Opponents have to keep an eye on him quite a bit. They're concerned with him. He's been a threat, been dangerous. Hasn't had the production to reflect it, but he's definitely had some opportunities.
According to Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune and Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times, Kane agrees with his coach’s sentiment:
Patrick Kane: "I don’t think I’ve played up to par ... the first three games. It would be nice to turn that around." #Blackhawks— Chris Kuc (@ChrisKuc) May 25, 2014
Patrick Kane, on what he needs to do to get back on track: "Demand the puck. And when I do get it, be confident with it." #Blackhawks— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) May 25, 2014
On the other hand, Kings forward Jeff Carter has been on fire. Through the first 17 games of the 2014 postseason, he has racked up an impressive eight goals, 11 assists and even contributed heavily with forechecking at times.
The official Twitter account of the NHL’s public relations department and Pete Jensen of NHL.com talked about just how dominant Carter has been in the postseason:
Jeff Carter has scored 22 goals over past three postseasons combined -- more than any player League-wide over that span. #LAKings— Pete Jensen (@NHLJensen) May 25, 2014
There will always be a focus on the goaltending and how Corey Crawford and Quick react to each situation, but the depth and scoring ability of the offense will be the deciding factor in this series.
There is depth and strength on each defensive unit, but there is enough talent on both rosters to put up big points in every game. These two teams recently won the Stanley Cup due to the offensive depth and timely scoring.
If Kane and Sharp don’t figure out their inability to score consistently and Carter continues stacking up points, Los Angeles will make short work of the Blackhawks on route to another championship.
Predicted Game 4 Winner: Chicago wins 4-2
*Stats via NHL.com.