NHL Playoffs Opening Night Open Thread

Richard Wolowicz

SB Nation 2014 NHL Playoff Bracket

The Playoffs are finally here! Granted, we've got another two days until the Wings play, but at least you've got hockey to watch tonight rather than waiting for NHL Network to air the draft lottery and finding out 30 minutes prior that Twitter was going to spoil it for you anyway.

I hope you all got caught up on your DVRs, because there's nothing like the first round.

Tonight we've got three games:

Atlantic Division 2/3 Semifinals - Game 1: Montreal Canadiens at Tampa Bay Lightning - 7:00pm

Television: CNBC, CBC, RDS, SUN Sports

SB Nation Blogs

Tampa Bay - Raw Charge
Montreal - Habs Eyes on the Prize

The Matchup

Tampa finished the season hot to beat out Montreal for the 2nd spot in the Atlantic. Both teams won seven of their last ten games to get where they ended up. Perhaps more-impressively, Tampa did it with a series of backups after their Vezina candidate goaltender Ben Bishop went down. The Bolts will be without Bishop tonight, but have Anders Lindback ready to face off against Carey Price at the other end. Tampa put up 25 more goals this season than the Habs did, but also allowed 11 more. This should be one of the closer first round matchups, but for some reason, I can't see it going seven.

Metropolitan Division 1/4 Semifinals - Game 1: Columbus Blue Jackets at Pittsburgh Penguins - 7:30pm

Television: NBCSN, CBC, ROOT, FS-O

SB Nation Blogs

Columbus - The Cannon
Pittsburgh - Pensburgh

The Matchup

On paper, this one looks like a cakewalk for the Penguins, who both outscored Columbus and allowed fewer goals, despite leading the league in man-games lost to injury. Even better, they're apparently getting Malkin back tonight. However, the Jackets brag Sergei Bobrovsky in their net and he's exactly the kind of goaltender who can spent a seven game series inside a team's head. meanwhile, Marc-Andre Fleury at the other end doesn't frighten anybody. The Jackets are a pain in the ass to play against, but I think Pittsburgh has too many weapons.

Pacific Division 1/4 Semifinals - Game 1: Dallas Stars at Anaheim Ducks - 10:00pm

Television: NBCSN, TSN, RDS, FS-SW, FS-W

SB Nation Blogs

Dallas - Defending Big D
Anaheim - Anaheim Calling, Battle of California

The Matchup

The Ducks tied with St. Louis for the best goal differential in the Western Conference this season while Dallas outscored their opponents by a mere seven goals. Anaheim has gotten scoring from more than one line this season, which makes them more dangerous than they have been in years past. However, this is still their leadership core. Dallas is a plucky squad who could probably use a few more pieces to make a long run, but they've got the talent to surprise a team. I'm hoping they do in this round.

- - -

So who are you rooting for tonight?

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