The first teams to get playoff action underway tomorrow night are the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild.
If you followed playoff action last year – it was a team that just made it in to the eighth spot that was able to work through the playoffs and earn the right to be called champions. I wouldn’t expect the same to be held true this year.
Number one seeds are number one seeds for a reason this year. Both are number one teams only lost a slim 12 games this year, but what put the Chicago Blackhawks on top of the entire National Hockey League was only losing 7 times in regulation. If and when their opponents were lucky enough to beat them, it took extra time to do it.
The Blackhawks started the season off right, going an incredible 21-0-3 before losing in regulation. That meant they had 45 points in the bank before they saw zero points in a game. They had better than half the season remaining to only need five more wins, or ten points to be eligible for the playoffs. Instead they ran away with the Presidents Trophy.
Minnesota on the other hand struggled to make it into the top eight – tied in points with the Columbus Blue Jackets with 55 points, Minnesota sneaks into the playoffs on the first tie breaker of more wins.
This series has the ability to be over before you know it. Here are some notes from around the table here at Sabrenoise.com, and some predictions on how the series will play out.
Keys to Success
The Blackhawks don’t need much to be successful against the Wild. Their strong points in this series, according to Senior Staff Writer Caitlin Campbell will be goaltending and defense. With a William Jennings winning tandem in Ray Emery and Corey Crawford – just a little bit of defense in front of those two and the Wild team who could only 122 goals all season will quickly find themselves at the 19th hole as opposed to the second round. Rich jumps in to point out the Blackhawks goal differential – the original six franchise allowed just a scant two goals per game.
For the Minnesota Wild – they need to turn into the 2012-2013 Los Angeles Kings Quick-ly, pun fully intended. CC goes on to say that Niklas Backstrom will need to turn into last years Jonathan Quick – good news from Rich though – he is up to the challenge, winning an NHL high 24 games this year. The team in front of him needs to score as many garbage goals as they can – to demoralize the Chicago Blackhawks.
Teams that are tested in fire are usually the teams that can stand the test of time when it comes to the grueling second season of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This edition of the Chicago Blackhawks was mettled to start the regular season, and that according to Rich is going to kill the Minnesota Wild and any other team that stands in their way.
It’s no secret that I can’t stand Western Conference Hockey – for those of you that use to listen to our Blog Talk Radio Podcast Rink Side Rants from my playoff ramblings last year – I hate West Coast hockey, not because of the style of the game – far from it, I love watching any great hockey – its the time difference for me. Hockey shouldn’t start at 10PM EST. A good three four overtime game and were talking about walking into work with zero sleep.
Those of us sitting here at the table agree its going to be a quick series. Rich and I agree its going to be a sweep as the Blackhawks are hungry to get into the deeper rounds of the playoffs – Caitlin thinks the Wild will be able to win at least one game – with the Blackhawks winning in five.
Thankfully this series starts slightly earlier. Here is the complete schedule with television affiliates that will carry the games: (*if necessary)
|TUESDAY, APRIL 30, 2013||8 P.M.||MINNESOTA AT CHICAGO||NBCSN, CBC|
|FRIDAY, MAY 3, 2013||9:30 P.M.||MINNESOTA AT CHICAGO||NBCSN, CBC|
|SUNDAY, MAY 5, 2013||3 P.M.||CHICAGO AT MINNESOTA||NBC, CBC|
|TUESDAY, MAY 7, 2013||9:30 P.M.||CHICAGO AT MINNESOTA||NBCSN, CBC|
|*THURSDAY, MAY 9, 2013||TBD||MINNESOTA AT CHICAGO||CBC|
|*SATURDAY, MAY 11, 2013||TBD||CHICAGO AT MINNESOTA||CBC|
|*SUNDAY, MAY 12, 2013||TBD||MINNESOTA AT CHICAGO||CBC|