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NHL playoff previews: Team vs. team predictions

Updated: June 3, 2014 6:42AM



(1) DUCKS VS (3) KINGS

Regular season: Ducks won 4-0-1.

The Kings became the fourth team in NHL history to come all the way back from a 3-0 series deficit, stunning the Sharks to set up the first freeway series in the Ducks’ 21-year history. The Kings’ Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty likely will be called upon to neutralize the Ducks’ dynamic duo of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. The Kings have a decided advantage in goal, however, with 2012 Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Quick. The Ducks turned to rookie Frederik Andersen in their series against the Stars, but he was replaced by veteran Jonas Hiller in Game 6. Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau’s pick here might decide the series.

Prediction: Kings in 6.

(1) BRUINS VS. (3) CANADIENS

Regular season: Canadiens won 3-1-0.

These two Original Six rivals — this is the 34th playoff series between the two — are built similarly. Each has an elite goalie (the Bruins’ Tuukka Rask and the Canadiens’ Carey Price). Each has a Norris Trophy-caliber defenseman (the Bruins’ Zdeno Chara and the Canadiens’ P.K. Subban). Each has great depth at forward. So, as they often are, special teams might be the difference. The Bruins’ power play is on the uptick, going 6-for-16 in a five-game victory against the Red Wings. The Canadiens, meanwhile, are a ghastly 2-for-35 on the power play dating to late in the regular season. The Canadiens need trade-deadline acquisition Thomas Vanek to be a difference-maker.

Prediction: Bruins in 7.

(1) PENGUINS VS. (2) RANGERS

Regular season: Tied 2-2.

It’s tough to get a read on the Penguins. They beat a solid Blue Jackets team despite not getting any goals from Sidney Crosby and with James Neal and Chris Kunitz combining for only three. So they’re due for an offensive explosion. That said, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury seems perpetually on the brink of an implosion. After a disastrous playoffs last spring, he struggled again against the Blue Jackets. He’ll need to be significantly better against the Rangers who allowed the second-fewest goals in the Eastern Conference during the regular season, thanks in large part to all-world goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

Prediction: Rangers in 6.



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