Ranking Every 1st-Round NHL Playoff Series

Ranking Every 1st-Round NHL Playoff Series

Stanley Cup Playoffs
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The matchups for the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs are officially set. The grueling two-month process that creates legends starts on Wednesday. Each series brings something unique to the table, and we have some great series. So without further ado, here are the rankings for each first-round series.

8. Anaheim Ducks vs. Dallas Stars

Anaheim Ducks vs. Dallas Stars
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8. Anaheim Ducks vs. Dallas Stars

Anaheim Ducks vs. Dallas Stars
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The Anaheim Ducks have been a tad bit inconsistent since the Olympic break, but they are still better than the Dallas Stars. This series features some big names like Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry for the Ducks plus Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin for the Stars. The Stars actually won the season series, but the Ducks are a much deeper team and should handle the Stars relatively easily.

7. Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
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7. Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
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The Columbus Blue Jackets are in the playoffs for the second time in their history, but they face a tall task against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins dominated the Blue Jackets in the regular season, winning all five games. The Blue Jackets have great young talent like Ryan Johansen, but Sidney Crosby and his supporting cast will dominate the inexperienced Blue Jackets.

6. Colorado Avalanche vs. Minnesota Wild

Colorado Avalanche vs Minnesota Wild
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6. Colorado Avalanche vs. Minnesota Wild

Colorado Avalanche vs Minnesota Wild
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This series has a load of talent in it. The Colorado Avalanche went from last in the West last season to hosting a playoff series this season. Not having Matt Duchene will hurt them, but they have some excellent depth. The Minnesota Wild also have some great players, but their goaltending situation is unclear. This series is going to be very fast-paced and fun to watch for fans. The Avalanche won four of five against the Wild this season.

5. Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens

Tampa Bay Lightning vs Montreal Canadiens
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5. Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens

Tampa Bay Lightning vs Montreal Canadiens
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The Lightning and Canadiens are similar in a lot of ways. Both teams have great goaltending and are quick. The Lightning will have the best player on the ice in Steven Stamkos, but have a young cast around him. The Canadiens have Thomas Vanek and Max Pacioretty. This series will be fast-paced and physical. Three of the four meetings between these two teams went to overtime or the shootout, with the Lightning winning three.

4. Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red Wings

Boston Bruins vs Detroit Red Wings
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4. Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red Wings

Boston Bruins vs Detroit Red Wings
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The Boston Bruins are clearly the best team in the Eastern Conference, but they will be going up against one of the hottest teams in the East, the Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings have suffered a number of injuries, but prevailed. The Bruins dominated everyone, but they lost the season series to the Red Wings. This series between original six teams has upset potential.

3. St. Louis Blues vs. Chicago Blackhawks

St. Louis Blues vs Chicago Blackhawks
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3. St. Louis Blues vs. Chicago Blackhawks

St. Louis Blues vs Chicago Blackhawks
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It's a shame that we will have to lose a favorite to win the Stanley Cup in this series. The Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues will be a heck of a series to watch. The Blues won the season series 3-2, but these two teams are evenly matched. The Blackhawks love to run and gun while the Blues like to lock down their own end. Both teams are a little banged up, but it will still be a fascinating series to watch.

2. New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers

New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers
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2. New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers

New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers
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Broadway versus Broad St. The New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers, two of the NHL's greatest rivals, will meet up this year. The teams split the season series with each team winning two games. The Rangers have the deeper defense and an advantage in goal, but the Flyers are more physical and have a more scoring depth. The games will all be close and insanely intense.

1. San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings

San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings
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1. San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings

San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings
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I never knew how much these two teams hated each other until I saw them play a couple of weeks ago. The rivalry between the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings is real and it is one of the best around. These teams absolutely despise each other. This series will have everything: great goaltending, physical play, high-end talent, great coaching and two raucous crowds. The Kings won three of five, with four of the games being decided by one goal.