Stanley Cup Playoffs

Would we want it any other way?

The Blackhawks will start their repeat dreams and open the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the St. Louis Blues tomorrow night at 8:30pm at the Scottrade Center.

This will be one of the most fascinating series of the first round that will guarantee a legitimate cup contender is going home early.  These two teams are the big dogs in the central division. They hate each other and that makes it even more exciting to watch.

The Hawks and Blues met five times this season. Chicago won two games in the five-game season series, but recorded a point in every game as St. Louis’ three wins came in overtime.

The last time these two met in the playoffs was the 2014 series and come on who could forget that! Big hits, overtime wins and tons of trash talk, I can smell it already!

As we examine this series a bit more we can’t help but look at the Blackhawks playoff experience it is one of their biggest advantages. They have played a lot of bonus hockey the last few years and with the core group of Toews, Kane, Seabrook, Keith (will miss game 1, he is still serving his six game suspension) and Crawford their experiences is a huge advantage here.

Home-ice in this series is not going to be that big of a deal. The Blackhawks travel extremely well, and St. Louis is literally a hop, skip and a jump away. No advantage here. The Blues edge is that they are big as F*, their physical play and size are apparent in the teams previous meetings; the Blues have the edge on the offensive and defensive side of the puck. Hopefully, they won’t play dirty and try and take any of our guys out. Who can forget the hit David Backes took on Brent Seabrook in the 2014 series.

Two players that you need to know in this series are.


Vladimir Tarasenko
: Tarasenko has played very well against the Blackhawks this year. In the five games these teams played he scored five goals, not too shabby. He is also becoming a playoff animal for the Blues. He netted 10 goals in his last 12 playoff games, and in just five games in April he netted four goals. Needless to say the Blackhawks top defensive pairing are going to have their hands full with Tarasenko. He is just getting started. If the Blues have a chance, he needs to continue his hot streak for the club in the postseason.


Patrick Kane
: Where should I start?! Kane comes into the postseason even hotter than Tarasenko, with seven goals in his last five games. Kane is going to win the Hart Trophy for regular season MVP, it’s locked down.  Kane won’t slow down; look for big things from his line with Artem Anisimov and Artemi Panarin. Yeah, try not to confuse them either!

The schedule for this season series (All times are Central): So you don’t miss a moment of the action

Game 1: Wednesday 8:30 p.m. @Scottrade Center

Game 2: Friday 7 p.m. @ Scottrade Center

Game 3: Sunday 2 p.m. @United Center

Game 4: Tuesday 4/19 8:30 p.m. @United Center

Game 5: Thursday 4/21 TBD @Scottrade Center

Game 6: Saturday 4/23 TBD @United Center

Game 7: Monday 4/25 TBD @Scottrade Center

It’s almost been two decades since the NHL last had a repeat champion. This is going to be a phenomenal series. The hardest thing to do in the playoffs is eliminate a champion that just knows how to win in the postseason. The Blues won’t pull it off. Blackhawks in 6.

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preview

Let’s do this…

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?!?!
  • Patrick Kane

    Patrick Kane

    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.
  • Darcy Kuemper

    Darcy Kuemper

    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:

  • Zach Parise

    Zach Parise

    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
    Ryan Suter

    Ryan Suter

    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.

  • Dany Heatley

    Dany Heatley

    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:

  • Patrick Sharp

    Patrick Sharp

    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
    Jonathan Toews

    Jonathan Toews

    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.

  • Brent Seabrook

    Brent Seabrook

    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

What’s Next:

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!

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Blackhawks vs. LA Kings Game 3 Cheat Sheet

After two big weekend wins at home against the LA Kings in Games 1 and 2, cialis the Blackhawks will skate on enemy ice tonight in Game 3 at the Staples Center in LA, sales the place the Kings have been close to perfect at, winning 14 straight. Can the Hawks bring their mojo to the city of Angels and end the Kings’ home win streak to make this a 3-0 series?

We’re just hours away from finding out when the puck drops at 8:00PM tonight for Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals in LA.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

  • Two down – two to go: After a slugfest series between the Red Wings in the Semis, the first two games of the Western Conference Finals against the LA Kings couldn’t have gone any better for the Hawks as they took the first two wins on home ice to steal the momentum and head to LA up 2-0. The Hawks are now only 2 wins away from a trip back to the Stanley Cup Finals.
  • Party Crashers – again? The LA Kings only lost four times at home in the condensed regular season – that’s ridiculously good. One of those four losses came at the hands of the Hawks back in January when the Hawks crashed the Kings’ celebratory party, pulling out the win at their Stanley Cup Banner celebration. The Kings have won 14 straight games at home.  Can the Hawks crash the party once again tonight at the Staples Center?

  • Will the ‘Pull the Goalie Jokes’ end tonight? A true testament to just how good the Hawks played in Game 2 was Conn Smythe Trophy winning goalie, Jonathan Quick, being pulled after the Hawks unloaded four unanswered goals on him midway through the second period. Watch for Quick to be back in the net tonight and looking to redeem himself in front of his home crowd.
  • Time for the big guns to show up? It’s not just the Hawks’ big guns that are not producing this postseason, the Kings’ stars are also struggling to score. Star center Anze Kopitar has had only two goals this postseason and Captain Dustin Brown only three. Jonathan Toews has only one goal and Patrick Kanehas two. Will this be the game that the big guns finally come out and score?

    Anze Kopitar

  • Been there – done that: Yes, it’s nice to come in leading 2-0 in a series, but keep in mind that the Kings have been here before. The Kings were down 0-2 in the first round against the St. Louis Blues before coming back to win it in six games.

YOUR TAKE AWAY PIECE:

“The Hawks need to keep the momentum going by playing aggressive hockey and continuing to fire on all four lines. If they can get under Quick’s skin early again, there should be no reason why they can’t pull out a win tonight and end the Kings’ win streak at home.”

WHAT’S NEXT:

Clark Street Sports, $29.99

Hit the gym, go for a run, work late…with the west coast start time of 8:00PM it’s going to be a late night so get your work done early and out of the way so you can devote your time and attention to the game.

Puck drops at 8:00PM on NBC Sports Network.

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NHL-Printable-Playoff-Bracket

The 2013 NHL playoffs are finally here, patient and if you’ve breezed through the last few Hawks playoff seasons on your good looks and smart girl bar etiquette alone, viagra then make this the playoff season where you’ve got the killer lingo and playoff knowledge to match the perfected look.

To understand the playoffs you have to know what seeding is.  Seeding is just a fancy term for the ranking of teams based on their regular season performance in order to determine playoff match-ups. 

The NHL is divided geographically into two Conferences, the East and the West.  Within these conferences there are 3 separate divisions. The Hawks play in the Central Division of the Western Conference.

Eight teams from each of the two NHL conferences make the playoffs.  The three Division Winners (the teams with the best records) are seeded #1-3.  The remaining five teams are seeded #4 – #8 based on regular season records.

In the first round of the playoffs, the #1 seed plays the #8 seed, #2 plays #7 and so on.  The Hawks are coming in as the #1 seed in the West with the best record in the NHL. In the condensed 48-game regular season schedule (down from the normal 82 games thanks to the NHL Lockout) the Hawks won 37 games, lost seven and lost 5 in overtime resulting in a 36-7-5 record for a total of 77 points.  For more info on how points are generated, check out our piece on How the NHL Point System Works.

The Hawks will face the Minnesota Wild in the first round, the #8 seed in the West in the first round of the playoffs.  Unlike other sports, in the NHL, after every round of the playoffs, teams are re-seeded.

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There are four rounds of the NHL Playoffs, all rounds are the best of 7 games. The first 3 rounds basically determine the Conference Winner.  The last round of the Playoffs is called the Stanley Cup Finals – and matches the best team in the West versus the best team in the East.  The winner of the Stanley Cup finals wins the Stanley Cup.

  • 1st Round:  Conference Quarterfinals:  8 match-ups/16 teams
  • 2nd Round:  Conference Semifinals:  4 match-ups/8 teams
  • 3rd Round:  Conference Finals:  2 match-ups/4 teams
  • 4th Round:  Stanley Cup Finals: 1 match-up/2 teams

For a complete list of the match-ups and schedules for the 2013 NHL Playoffs, click HERE. 

So buckle in ladies, because with the incredible season the Hawks just wrapped up, we’re hoping for a long and exciting Playoff run from the Hawks this year – unlike the last two years when the Hawks got bounced in the first rounds – by the Vancouver Canucks in 7 games in 2011 and in six games to the Phoenix Coyotes in 2012.

And, if you’re still confused about the Playoffs, check out the great video below from the guys at About.com

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It was almost expected that Game 4 would end up in overtime, just like the previous 3 playoff games of this thrilling series. What wasn’t expected was the gut-wrenching 3-2 loss for the Hawks that leaves them in a very scary place, down 3 games heading back to Phoenix on Saturday night for Game 5, where they face elimination.

The Hawks had the advantage heading into Game 4 – home ice, no Raffi Torres, and revenge driven energy after Marian Hossa was knocked out of Game 4 in a dirty hit by Torres.  But the Hawks were out-played by a scrappy and hungry Coyotes team that came into the Playoffs red-hot and are within one game of sending the Hawks home early after just the first round of the Playoffs, for the second year in a row.

What You Need to Know:

  • The game was a kind of a snoozer until the third period – when points finally were scored.  The Hawks looked great the first two periods – out-shooting the ‘Yotes 23-10, but once again, nothing was getting past ‘Yotes goalie, Mike Smith.  The guy just gets better each game – the man is a steel trap.  At 6’4″ and 218 lbs, this dude is one lanky long fellow – and has an amazing ability to sprawl out before the net in lightning speed.
  • Hello Micheal Frolik! We admit, we haven’t paid much attention to this sexy Czech who’s been a total sleeper this playoffs – until now.  Frolik had the clutch goal in the 3rd period with 1:26 left to tie up the game 2-2 and send the game into OT.  We have to point out his remarkable resemblance to Ashton Kutcher. 
  • With the Hawks now down 3-1 in the best of 7-series, they must win the next 3 games in order to advance to the second round of the Playoffs.  It can be done, and the Hawks did it last year when they were down 0-3 against Vancouver, but it will be extremely difficult as Game 5 is in Phoenix.  Hot-streaks are critical in the Playoffs and the ‘Yotes came into the Playoffs red-hot winning their last 5 regular season games.  It’s unlikely that they will all of sudden go cold as they head home for Game 5.
Your Take Away Piece:  “Between the Bulls and the Hawks both losing huge games last night (Bulls lost to Miami Heat at the same time the Hawks game was on) I’m emotionally drained.  We know the Hawks can win 3 in a row in the Playoffs, but with the way the Coyotes are playing, I’m not sure if it’s going to happen this year, especially if Hossa and Shaw are both out for Game 5.”
 
What’s NextThe Hawks pack it up and head to Phoenix for the dreaded Game 5 and possible elimination.  Talk about nerve-wracking.  The Hawks obviously must win Game 5 or it’s all over.  In order to win Game 5, the Hawks must have every player taking shots on goal in order for something to get past Mike Smith.  They also need to take advantage of the power play and get goalie Corey Crawford back on track. Winning and turning this series around can be done, but it’s going to take every single Hawk playing the best hockey of their life to do it.
 
Game 5 is Saturday night with a 9PM puck drop – need a place to watch this epic game?  Join us at  The Anthem in Wicker Park for an official Blackhawks Game Watch.  The Bud Light Ice Girls will be on site, an official emcee, Blackhawk memorabilia raffles and drink specials including $5 cosmopolitans for our readers.  You must mention ‘sports divas’ for cosmo special.  Huge screens, hot guys, cool crowd.  We’ve got the scene and party covered, now just need the Hawks to come through.
 
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toews coyotes

How do you get revenge in Playoff hockey?  By winning.  Well, sick at least that’s the PC answer, and the response that Coach Q has been giving when asked how the Hawks will retaliate against Raffi Torres’ dirty hit on Marian Hossa in Game 3.  But, he’s got a point.  While those of us who love gritty playoff hockey would like to see the Hawks take their anger out physically on the ice tonight, winning Game 4 and tying up the series would be the quickest way to piss off the Coyotes and deliver payback.   The highly anticipated Game 4 of this uber-dramatic playoff series is tonight at 7PM at The Madhouse.  The city is buzzing about the Torres hit, the drama the series has unfolded, and hoping that the Hawks can bounce back tonight and even up the series before Game 5 Saturday night in Phoenix.

What You Need To Know & Watch For:

  • No Marian Hossa (pronounced HOE-SA).  Hossa is ‘day-to-day’ after the huge hit on Tuesday night that left him lifeless on the ice and taken to the hospital on a stretcher. Hossa was released from the hospital and is recovering at home.  Hossa will not dress for tonight’s game – but you better believe that the cameras will be on him non-stop as he sits on the bench watching his teammates. 
  • No Raffi Torres.  Torres has been suspended ‘indefinitely’ for his hit on Hossa.  He has a hearing on Friday with the NHL’s Department of Safety where he will learn his fate for the remainder of the season.  We’re hoping Tuesday was the last time we see Torres this season – not because of the NHL’s ruling – but because the Hawks will eliminate the Coyotes this round and Torres can begin his summer with anger management classes.  
  • Hello Brandon Saad! The next big storyline in this dramatic series is the call-up of rookie, Brandon Saad.

    Brandon Saad

    With Andrew Shaw serving his suspension for his hit on Hawks goalie Mike Smith on Saturday night in Game 2 and Marian Hossa out because of the hit he took in Game 3, Brandon Saad will get the start tonight making his big-league debut in Game 4!  No pressure, kid.  All eyes will be on this adorable 19-year old as he fills in for Hossa and Shaw.  Still following us?  Good.

  • More big hits?  We hope not, but with the way this series is going – and the amount of anger and tension between the two teams – we’re not ruling it out.  This NHL Playoffs have been one of the most physical playoffs in years with big fights, dirty hits, aggressive play – not just in the Hawks/Coyotes series – but all other series as well.  Some fans love it – but there have been a lot of outspoken critics that the NHL better step up and slap heavier penalties on players to send a message that violence in the Playoffs will not be tolerated.

Your Take Away Piece:  “The Hawks are going to come out strong tonight and win Game 4 – they have the perfect mojo mix heading into this game:  Home ice, revenge for Hossa and no Raffi Torres.  In the Playoffs last year, when Torres took the hit on Brent Seabrook in Game 3, the Hawks lost and were down 0-3.  But it served as the turning point in the series, and the Hawks came back and won the next 3 games.  I can see the same thing happening tonight!”

What’s Next?  Hello!?  Game 4!  The puck drops at 7PM – and if you’re lucky enough to have tickets to the game – we’re jealous.  We’ll be watching it on Comcast SportsNet.  It’s the perfect night to head out for Happy Hour! The Bulls play the hated Miami Heat at 7PM as well – making this one of those spring Thursday night Happy Hours we live for!!

Need a great place to watch the games tonight?  Head to The Anthem in Wicker Park – drink specials for Bulls & Hawks games and $5 cosmopolitans for our readers.  You must mention ‘sports divas’ for cosmo special.  Huge screens, hot guys, cool crowd.  Need anything else?


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