It’s been a long five days since the Blackhawks eliminated the Blues in the first round of the playoffs, viagra and the wait is finally over. The second round of the playoffs begin tonight, right in time to kickoff the weekend – we couldn’t have planned that one any better.
The playoffs are a quarter of the way over and the Blackhawks just need 12 more wins to bring Lord Stanley back to Chicago.
However, let’s focus on the next four. The Blackhawks next round opponent are the fourth seeded Minnesota Wild. The Wild took out the first seeded Colorado Avalanche in seven games in the last round and are firing on all cylinders.
Our Blackhawks are the third seed in the Central Conference and receive home ice for this series; can I get a “Heck Yeah”?!?! These two teams meet once again in the playoffs for the second straight postseason, however there’s a much different finesse about this Minnesota Wild team than a season ago, when they squeaked into the postseason, and let’s be honest our boys took care of them easily in five games. The Blackhawks went 2-3 versus the Wild during the regular season, and our neighbors to the north were quite a pain in the ass for our boys.
Continue on for the must know details and players of this second round matchup.
What You Need to Know:
- The Blackhawks offense is on fire! In the final four games versus the Blues the Hawks outscored them 14-6. Many say the realigning of Patrick Kane with Jonathan Toews added additional juice… you think?!?!
Six Blackhawks players scored more than once in the series versus the Blues, 12 players had at least one goal and they were pure perfection in games in which they scored first. I would say our offense is HOT HOT HOT…
- Our boys are coming off four straight wins against the St. Louis Blues after dropping the first two games in overtime losses, and they have shown no early signs of a Stanley Cup hangover. The Wild, meanwhile, dropped the first two against the Colorado Avalanche, trailed 3-2 in the series and then in Game 7 won it in overtime. To give credit where credit is due, this is a team that’s got tons of heart.
Who will be in net for the Wild? Russian Ilya Bryzgalov (BRIZ-GAL-OFF) or Darcy Kuemper? Bryzgalov was average as the Wild fell behind 2-0 in the series, to the Avs, allowing eight goals and turning in an .822 save percentage. What does that mean? He was not good. Bryzgalov was replaced by rookie Darcy Kuemper, who had been bitten by the injury bug. Kuemper led the Wild back into the series with three wins in four games. Just when the Wild thought their goalie issue was solved…. The bug bit Kuemper again he was hurt in the third period of Game 7, imposing Bryzgalov back into the net, and sent the Avs packing in the first round. Anything can happen in playoff hockey, so we will see who the Wild start in game 1.
- No goalie troubles for the Blackhawks. Corey Crawford found his sea legs after two sub-par performances in game one and two versus the Blues. He was a BOSS in between the pipes in the four victories for the Hawks. I have said it before. If Crow gets hot, he is one of the best in the game. The Wild will need to give it their all and more to beat him.
Key Players to Watch on the Wild:
Left Winger: Zach Parise: Parise (PAR-EE-SAY) was a beast in the first round. Leading the team with 10 points, the assistant captain stepped up and the rest of the team followed. If he continues to be the driving force and energizes the rest of the team, the Blackhawks are in trouble. Everyone will need to step up when Parise is on the ice. He makes so many good things happen for the Wild. Also, he is so easy on the eyes. Enjoy watching him ladies…
- Defenseman; Ryan Suter: Another fine looking… hockey player, I meant hockey
player! Suter plays gigantic minutes for the Wild, he’s averaging 29:47 of ice time during the playoffs. When Suter is on the ice, which is clearly a lot of the time the Wild get a bit more swag. Maybe, it is because Suter is not only one of the best defenseman in the NHL, he can score, fight, you name it and Suter does it.
Left Winger; Dany Heatley: There is something about the playoffs that reinvigorates former snipers to be relevant again. Heatley has been in the league for a long time. Bouncing from Thrashers, Senators to the Wild. He has been an offensive surprise so far notching five points. He may not be the star he once was, but the Hawks shouldn’t take their eyes off him. He can create offense and still has a wrist shot like no ones business.
Key Players to Watch on the Blackhawks:
Left Winger; Patrick Sharp: I know, I know I said Sharpie would do BIG things last round. He only had one goal and no assists in six games. However, his goal was mega in game six. Sharp is a money player and comes to play. He will make his existence known in this series sooner than later. Look for him to have a big game 1. You heard it here first.
- Center; Jonathan Toews: I mean all that Towes has done is score three game
winners last series. Toews is clearly in the playoff zone, he is making his presence known all over the ice. Weather it is scoring or sticking up for his teammates, he is everything that a captain entails. You hear me Ovechkin?!?! Yeah, I went there.
Defenseman; Brent Seabrook: I love the way Seabs steps up in the postseason. Seabs had six points, even though he was suspended for half of the series versus the Blues for his hit on David Backes. Seabs and Duncan Keith will again be tasked with shutting down the Wild’s first line of Parise-Mikko Koivu-Charlie Coyle. If anyone can shut them down its Seabrook, he is a big body and isn’t afraid to jump up into a play and shoots to score. He will be critical in this series.
First Round Schedule:
All times Central
Game 1, Friday: Wild at Blackhawks, 8:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
Game 2, Sunday: Wild at Blackhawks, 2 p.m. (NBC)
Game 3, Tuesday: Blackhawks at Wild, 8 p.m. (CNBC)
Game 4, Friday, May 9: Blackhawks at Wild, TBD
Game 5, Sunday, May 11-*: Wild at Blackhawks, TBD
Game 6, Tuesday, May 13-*: Blackhawks at Wild, TBD
Game 7, Thursday, May 15-*: Wild at Blackhawks, TBD
The social scene in Chicago revolves around our sports teams, especially when they are winning. Look for bars to be even more crowded, especially now that the Bulls are out of the playoffs. Blackhawks fever is getting hot once again, and it will continue to grow as they go deeper into the playoffs.
As I mentioned earlier the Wild were a pain in the ass for our boys during the season. The Wild are the underdog once again and I think they are enjoying that role. The Blackhawks are the superior team on paper. If their offense can continue to be lights out and a strong Crawford in net, I just don’t see the Wild getting it done. It once again will be a physical series and one not to be missed. I predict the Blackhawks will win this series in six games. It’s the Cup, is there another reason to get Wild?!?! Go Hawks!