The 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs are into round two. The matchups are set, and competitive. All of the series are one game in, except for one of them is two games in. All of these games have been decided by one goal, excluding empty net goals, except for game one between the Minnesota Wild and the Chicago Blackhawks.
In this series, I am not concerned about the way the Wild played in game one. Early on in their series against the Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota struggled their way in to a 2-0 deficit. The Wild battled back to win the series in seven games, courtesy of Nino Netermiter, who shelfed the game winner in a two on one in the overtime period. Chicago is a different team than the Colorado Avalanche. The Blackhawks hit harder and give their opponents less time and space. This is why the Blackhawks have a 2-0 series lead against the Minnesota Wild, as they just won game two this afternoon in Chicago. The Minnesota Wild proved last round that they cannot be counted out in the first round. I would not be shocked if they respond well in games three and four.
The winner of that series will face the winner of the battle of southern california. This battle consists of the Anahiem Ducks and the LA Kings. LA took game one at the Honda Center, in which Marion Gaborick scored the tying goal with six seconds left, as well as the overtime winner to bring home ice advantage to Los Angeles. I have been very impressed with the LA Kings who won their fifth straight game against the Anahiem Ducks last night. The previous four wins were all elimination games against an elite hockey team in the San Jose Sharks. LA got put into a 3-0 hole, but the Kings relentlessness dug them out of that hole. I see the Kings winning this series because they have so much momentum from their comeback win last round. I expect them to make a deep postseason run.
Out east, an original six rivalry takes center stage yet again. The historical rivalry between the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadians will flourish in this second round series, which is currently knotted up at one. Montreal took the series opener, which needed extra time to settle the score. The Canadians got a big preformence out of their blue liner, who scored the first and last goals of the game. Goaltender Carry Price was clutch in game one with 49 saves. Boston Bruins goaltender Tukha Rask was not as clutch and he knew he needed to be better in game two. In this game he was solid in a 5-3 win for the Bruins. This was a character win for Boston, who came back from a 3-1 deficit in the third period by scoring four unanswered goals to win it. Patrice Bergeron ripped one on net from the boards that deflected of of Montreal blue liner Francous Bollion to go in for the tie, which was broken when Reilly Smith potted a goal to finish off a nice passing play. Now the Canadians will be at home where I expect them to respond well. However, I am picking the Boston Bruins to win this series in six games because of the character that they showed me in game two. The Boston Bruins will rally the troops and take another trip to the conference championships.
In the other eastern conference matchup, I see the Pittsburgh Penguins in a lot of trouble. The New York Rangers defeated them 3-2 in overtime in game one where they out skated and outplayed the Penguins all over the ice. Pittsburgh made a nice comeback, but they didn't come through. They will not come through in this series against a stronger New York Rangers team.