NHL Playoffs Weekend Predictions & Schedule: Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers Head Home Against Tampa Bay Lightning, Anaheim Ducks
The chase for the holy grail of hockey championships is heating up.
Just four teams remain in the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff race. The Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks are facing off in the Western Conference finals, while New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning are squaring off in the East.
Let's break down the games and predict winners for this weekend.
New York Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
What a series this has been so far. The Rangers won Game 1 at home, but the Lightning struck back with victories in Game 2 and 3. After a huge 6-5 overtime victory in Game 3, many NHL analysts believe that Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist should have been benched. He answered those critics in a big way.
Lundqvist stopped 38 of 39 shots in Game 4 to seal a 5-1 win. With that win, the Rangers tied the series 2-2 and thus have retrieved home-ice advantage back from the Lightning. This is now a best of three series.
Steven Stamkos and Tyler Johnson won't go away quietly. The Lightning eliminated the Detroit Red Wings in the first round and the Montreal Canadiens in round two. The Lightning are seeking just their second Stanley Cup in franchise history while the Rangers are trying to win their second championship since 1940.
Schedule, Where to Watch
The Rangers and Lightning will play each other on Sunday, May 24 on NBC Sports at 8 p.m. EST. The game will be played at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.
This series is going seven games. However, for now, the Rangers will take Game 5 and a 3-2 series lead at home. Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis will be the X factors with home-ice making the difference.
Rangers win 4-3
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Anaheim Ducks
Over in the West, the Blackhawks and Ducks are facing off in a fierce and physical series. The Ducks currently lead the series after three games of play, two games to one. The road team is 2-1 in this series, and we even saw a triple overtime game in Game 2 with the Blackhawks victorious.
Joel Quenneville is looking to lead the Blackhawks to their third Stanley Cup since 2008 with Patrick Kane leading the way. Kane had a chance to tie Game 3 late, but he shot wide of the net with less than five seconds left in regulation. The Ducks are trying to win their second Stanley Cup since 2007, and winning Game 4 would give them a commanding 3-1 series lead.
Both goalies, Corey Crawford and Frederik Andersen, have played well in this series, so it will be up to the offenses to step up and score more goals.
Schedule, Where to Watch
The Blackhawks and Ducks will play each other on Saturday, May 23 on NBC Sports at 8 p.m. EST. The game will be played at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.
The Blackhawks can't lose two straight games at home and give the Ducks a 3-1 series advantage. The Blackhawks are better than that, and they'll play like it on Saturday night. It will be a close game, but the Blackhawks will win a tight game at home.
Blackhawks win 3-2