Boston The Current Odds-on Favorite to Win the Stanley Cup

Published on April 14th, 2014 3:08 pm EST

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The eight first round matchups of the 2013-14 NHL Playoffs have now been set - they are:

Boston vs Detroit
Montreal vs Tampa Bay
Pittsburgh vs Columbus
New York vs Philadelphia
Anaheim vs Dallas
San Jose vs Los Angeles
Colorado vs Minnesota
St. Louis vs Chicago

Montreal vs Tampa Bay, Anaheim vs Dallas and Montreal vs Tampa Bay will be kicking things off on Wednesday, April 16th.

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Thanks to re-alignment and the new playoff seeding structure, the first round of this year's playoffs contains some pretty unusual match-ups.

For instance - Pittsburgh vs Columbus and Boston vs Detroit are a direct result of re-alignment. Boston vs Detroit is going to be a particularly compelling match-up that involves two of the NHL's original six teams.

There are a number of more "traditional" match-ups as well, including New York vs Philadelphia, San Jose vs Los Angeles and St. Louis vs Chicago.

Let's take a look at each of the eight match-ups:

Boston vs Detroit - Boston is built for the playoffs and they have one of the most balanced teams in the NHL. The Red Wings outperformed expectations this year, especially with their injuries, but it's hard to imagine Detroit getting past the grinding Bruins in a 7 game series.

Montreal vs Tampa Bay - the difference in this series, I believe, will be goaltending. Namely, Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens. I believe that Price picked up some invaluable confidence at the Olympics earlier this year, and I believe that this will propel the Canadiens to a victory.

Pittsburgh vs Columbus - Pittsburgh wins but they'll have a more difficult time than most people imagine. Columbus will surprise many with their rabid fans who are starving for playoff hockey.

New York vs Philadelphia - A tough series to call and likely the closest series of the first round.

Anaheim vs Dallas - Anaheim played lights out almost all season. Do they have anything left in the tank for the playoffs? This is another series that will be closer than most people think.

San Jose vs Los Angeles - this will likely be the most brutal series of the first round. Expect at least a couple of long overtime games that will leave the winner depleted for their second round series.

Colorado vs Minnesota - of the eight first round series, this one has the most potential for an upset. Colorado played well above their heads all season - how will their young players fare in the playoffs? Minnesota can be a tough team to play against and their fans are some of the best in the NHL.

St. Louis vs Chicago - St. Louis was in freefall mode heading into the playoffs. It's easier said than done to just reverse the momentum like that. Don't be shocked if St. Louis falls to the Blackhawks in this series - let's not forget how good the Blackhawks are in the playoffs.

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The journey to the Stanley Cup Finals continues on Wednesday afternoon.

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