A1) Boston Bruins vs. A3) Montréal Canadiens
For the 34th time, the most among the four major North American professional sports leagues, the Bruins and the Canadiens, hockey’s greatest rivalry, will meet in a playoff series. During the regular season, the Habs won three out of four meetings. However, the Habs will roll into Boston after an eight-day layoff. The Bruins will come into Game 1 after a five-day layoff. Risk rust will be the last worry for both teams. However, just like the last time these two teams met in a playoff series three years ago, I believe this series will be a bitter war that will go the distance.
Prediction: BOS in 7
M1) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. M2) New York Rangers
The last time these two teams met in the playoffs, the Penguins dispatched the Rangers in five games in 2008. In this series, the big matchup will be between the pipes. Marc-Andre Fleury did win a series, but the opponent was pretty much inexperienced in the playoffs. The Rangers have the same level of playoff experience as the Penguins, but they just came off a grueling seven-game series against the Flyers. Can King Henrik Lundqvist ride the momentum from the last series to this series? As the Penguins playoff motto (a classic saying by “the Ol’ Two-Niner” Phil Bourque) goes, “Buckle Up Baby”, because this series is gonna be one hell of a ride.
Prediction: PIT in 6
C3) Chicago Blackhawks vs. WWC1) Minnesota Wild
The Blackhawks have dodged a HUGE bullet in their quest to repeat. Instead of facing the Colorado Avalanche in the Division Final, they’ll face the team that upset the Avalanche in seven games, the Minnesota Wild. After pulling off the upset, the Wild fly into Chicago with a goaltending dilemma in their hands. After Darcy Kuemper got hit in the head in Game 7, he might be questionable for Game 1, which means Ilya Bryzgalov will likely start. If the Wild have a chance to upset the defending Stanley Cup champs, they’d have to match or better every facet of what the Hawks do on the ice. The Wild may be a better team than the team the Hawks faced in the first round last year, but most likely, the results may be the same again this time around.
Prediction: CHI in 6
P1) Anaheim Ducks vs. P3) Los Angeles Kings
This has been the playoff series Southern California has been waiting for a long time. It was felt on a Saturday night: January 25, 2014 in front of 54,099 at Dodger Stadium, and now it’ll be felt over the next two weeks. For the first time ever, the Kings and the Ducks will meet in playoff series. Much like the Bruins-Canadiens series, this series will be a bitter war that will go the distance. And if history means anything, the last time a team came back from a 3-0 series deficit to win a series in seven games went on a playoff run so deep, that they advanced all he way to the Stanley Cup Final. That team was the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers.
Prediction: LA in 7