The 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs get underway when the puck drops between the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning shortly after 4:00 p.m. PDT Wed., April 16. The San Jose Sharks drop the puck on their first-round battle with the Los Angeles Kings Thursday.
Examiner.com previewed that series Tuesday, predicting the Sharks would win in seven. They ended the 2013-14 NHL season with 111 points, good for a second-place finish in the Pacific Division behind the Anaheim Ducks (116). Two other teams finished higher in the Western Conference but only one in the Eastern Conference, possibly impacting home-ice advantage in subsequent Stanley Cup playoff rounds.
It is only natural to wonder who San Jose's opponent would be in the second round. What would the rest of the field look like? What would that bring for the future and how might those series look?
Everyone does predictions. Many people even enjoy getting into the competition with wagers, from mayors offering local goods if their team loses to bracket challenges to places like Bovada (the source of all odds listed below, as of April 15) offering betting lines on what each team's chances are in a given series, its chances of winning the conference as well as the Stanley Cup and so much more.
However, there is a purity in enjoying the moment. That is robbed by wondering if the team is going to cost one money. It allows one to examine what series along the way might be compelling for either just their drama or a potential future matchup.
Since there will be 14 other playoffs series to look at on the road to the Stanley Cup, giving equal depth to each as Tuesday's preview against Los Angeles is not practical. Even future Sharks series (singular or plural?) will not receive that much focus, though any they do have will get a little more in-depth on the team this column covers.
Other Western Conference series are worthy of being examined individually because they are more likely to impact San Jose. Finally, the Eastern Conference is only examined by round...