Sticking With Rangers/Ducks Final

By HOWARD BERGER

TORONTO (May 14) — Call me stubborn, if you wish, but the teams I chose to play for the Stanley Cup this spring are still alive halfway through the playoff tournament. And though somewhat tempted to shift gears, I will resolutely stay with the forecast presented in this corner one month ago today — blog–link here: http://bit.ly/1H4GQyI.

It required the New York Rangers to craft a Stanley Cup record by becoming the first–ever team to rebound from 3–1 series deficits in consecutive years — having done so against Pittsburgh last spring. Washington was poised to upset the National Hockey League’s first–place team in the regular season but the Capitals of the past generation have had nothing but fits with a 3–1 playoff edge — coughing up such a lead on five occasions since 1987. Montreal rooters likely have fond memory of 2010 when Jaroslav Halak got hot at the right time and led a comeback from 3–1 down against Washington. Habs went to the Eastern Conference final that year before losing to Philadelphia. New York’s rebound this spring sets up an Eastern final against Tampa Bay, beginning Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden. Steven Stamkos and the Lightning are getting stronger as the playoffs progress and the Rangers should be well–prepared for another stiff challenge.

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THE RANGERS REJOICE AFTER DEREK STEPAN’S GOAL AT 11:24 OF OVERTIME ELIMINATED THE WASHINGTON CAPITALS WEDNESDAY NIGHT AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN.

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STEPAN SMILES AND ALEX OVECHKIN EMBRACES HENRIK LUNDQVIST. SPORTSNET TV IMAGES

Out west, the Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks are likely to have sea–legs when their Conference final faces off at the Honda Center on Sunday afternoon. Chicago will return after a 10–day layoff from sweeping Minnesota while Anaheim’s inactivity will be seven days after its five–game conquest of Calgary. I was a mediocre 2–and–2 with my second–round predictions — expecting Montreal and Minnesota to prevail. I’m now 8–and–4 in the 2015 playoffs.

Courtesy nhl.com, here is the complete Conference final TV schedule:

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EASTERN CONFERENCE FINAL MATCHUPSERIES M – M1 vs. A2TIME (ET)  vs.  NETWORKSSaturday, May 161 p.m.Tampa Bay at NY RangersNBC, CBC, TVA SportsMonday, May 188 p.m.Tampa Bay at NY RangersNBCSN, CBC, TVA SportsWednesday, May 208 p.m.NY Rangers at Tampa BayNBCSN, CBC, TVA SportsFriday, May 228 p.m.NY Rangers at Tampa BayNBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports*Sunday, May 248 p.m.Tampa Bay at NY RangersNBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports*Tuesday, May 268 p.m.NY Rangers at Tampa BayNBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports*Friday, May 298 p.m.Tampa Bay at NY RangersNBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINAL MATCHUPSERIES N – P1 vs. C3TIME (ET)  vs.   NETWORKSSunday, May 173 p.m.Chicago at AnaheimNBC, CBC, TVA SportsTuesday, May 199 p.m.Chicago at AnaheimNBCSN, CBC, TVA SportsThursday, May 218 p.m.Anaheim at ChicagoNBCSN, CBC, TVA SportsSaturday, May 238 p.m.Anaheim at ChicagoNBC, CBC, TVA Sports*Monday, May 259 p.m.Chicago at AnaheimNBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports*Wednesday, May 278 p.m.Anaheim at ChicagoNBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports*Saturday, May 308 p.m.Chicago at AnaheimNBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

* – if necessary

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And, my predictions for the NHL’s Final Four:

EASTERN CONFERENCE FINAL

New York Rangers Logo - Red, White and Blue shield with New York on top and Rangers slanted

NEW YORK IN 7.

WESTERN CONFERENCE FINAL

ANAHEIM IN 7.

LOGOS COURTESY SPORTSLOGOS.NET

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