NHL Playoffs 2014: Updated Schedule and Predictions for Conference Finals

Kenny DeJohnAnalyst IIIMay 27, 2014

New York Rangers center Derick Brassard celebrates with right wing Mats Zuccarello (36) after scoring against the Montreal Canadiens during the second period of Game 4 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs Eastern Conference finals, Sunday, May 25, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Kathy Willens/Associated Press

Just four teams remain in the hunt for Lord Stanley's Cup, and it's been a long road up to this point for those squads still alive in the 2014 NHL playoffs.

The conference finals segment of the playoffs features four of the most well-rounded teams in the league. The New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens are playing a very physical series in the East, and the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings are playing an equally compelling series over in the West.

But which two teams will advance and do battle in the Stanley Cup?

To make sure you're following all the action up to the pinnacle of the sport, below is a schedule of the remaining games—along with predictions for the rest of both series.

 

Schedule

2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs Conference Finals
Eastern Conference
GameMatchupDateTime (ET)TV
1Rangers beat Canadiens, 7-2May 178 p.m.NBCSN
2Rangers beat Canadiens, 3-1May 198 p.m.NBCSN
3Canadiens beat Rangers, 3-2May 228 p.m.NBCSN
4Rangers beat Canadiens, 3-2May 258 p.m.NBCSN
5*New York Rangers at Montreal CanadiensMay 278 p.m.NBCSN
6*Montreal Canadiens at New York RangersMay 298 p.m.NBCSN
7*New York Rangers at Montreal CanadiensMay 318 p.m.NBCSN
Western Conference
GameMatchupDateTime (ET)TV
1Blackhawks beat Kings, 3-1May 183 p.m.NBC
2Kings beat Blackhawks, 6-2May 218 p.m.NBCSN
3Kings beat Blackhawks, 4-3May 248 p.m.NBC
4Chicago Blackhawks at Los Angeles KingsMay 269 p.m.NBCSN
5Los Angeles Kings at Chicago BlackhawksMay 288 p.m.NBCSN
6*Chicago Blackhawks at Los Angeles KingsMay 309 p.m.NBCSN
7*Los Angeles Kings at Chicago BlackhawksJune 18 p.m.NBCSN
NHL.com, *if necessary

 

Eastern Conference Finals

Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

After Martin St. Louis netted an overtime winner against the Canadiens in Game 4, the Rangers took a decisive 3-1 lead in what has become an extraordinarily compelling series.

P.K. Subban and the Canadiens haven't found the answer to Henrik Lundqvist in goal. Lundqvist has allowed just eight goals through four games, and only once has he allowed three goals. He is stepping up at the perfect time for a Rangers team that has struggled to find the same offense they had in Game 1.

Derick Brassard, a main cog on offense that hadn't played since Game 1, returned for Game 4 and immediately made his presence felt. He fired a slap shot past goalie Dustin Tokarski, perhaps suggesting that his presence in the lineup will be what puts the Rangers back over the top. Check out the goal below:

With a 3-1 lead, it's hard to pick against the Rangers to represent the East in the Stanley Cup. The Canadiens might be able to pull off one more win, but I don't see them getting three in a row against Lundqvist.

Prediction: Rangers in 6

 

Western Conference Finals

Chris Carlson/Associated Press

The comparison between the front lines of the Kings and Blackhawks isn't even close. Allan Muir of SI.com highlighted just how much better the Kings have been:

[Jeff] Carter and his linemates Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli are the most dangerous line in hockey right now. They’re fast, they’re hard on the puck, they go to the right places and they finish their chances. They had five points tonight and already have 15 in this series.

[Michal] Handzus, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp? They have one meaningless goal and a minus-7 between them.

This is actually pretty ironic considering how different that is from the norms of each team. The Kings are known for suffocating defense that stifles opponents nightly. The Blackhawks are known for an offense that can outscore anyone.

The Kings are maintaining that defense while also stepping up the offense. The Blackhawks are doing neither thing well. That's probably why the Kings are up 2-1 in the series.

These two teams represent the past two Stanley Cup champs. Only the Kings are playing like it, though. While it's still anybody's game, the Kings are clearly at an advantage.

If the Blackhawks step it up offensively, they can take this series. But that's a big "if," especially given how great this Kings defense is.

Prediction: Kings in 6