Game #1- Minnesota Wild (0-0) Vs Chicago Blackhawks (0-0)
Game Time-7pm Central
Season Series- The Hawks were 2-0-1
Preview- The Wild limped into the season finale and needed to hold off last place Colorado Avalanche to get the last playoff spot in the Western Conference holding off a surging Columbus Blue Jackets. The Wild changed their team history with the signings of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter and they didn’t disappoint. Suter led the league in ice time per game, and Parise led the team in scoring. The Wild played the Hawks very tough in Minnesota both games while losing 5-3 in Chicago. The Hawks will have to solve Niklas Backstrom who gave up only one goal in two appearances in Minnesota while getting beat routinely for 5 goals in Chicago. Backstrom had a solid season and the Wild will need him to stand on his head “a la Mike Smith” last season to keep the 8th seed Wild in a series where most experts have them bowing out by Game 6 at the latest. The Wild after Suter on the backend is weak so look for the Hawks to really look to exploit the matchups when Suter is off the ice.
The Hawks have had a storybook regular season which started with THE STREAK and a 24 game point streak to start the season. Look for the Hawks to jump on the Wild like the Hawks jumped on the Kings in their opening game right out of the gate. One of the real strengths of the Hawks has been the ability to roll all four lines with Coach Quenneville not messing around that much with lines until this last week. The Hawks have been focused all season long so I don’t foresee the Hawks to Overlook the Wild or any other team this post-season. Corey Crawford now gets his chance to get rid of the demons from last season’s soft O.T goals and he will not have Ray Emery to worry about until at least Sunday in Minnesota so it will be time for Crawford to put his foot down and proclaim the #1 goalie spot his and his only.
My Hawks X-factor for tonight is Bryan Bickell who played good all season long, but when the Hawks are playing great Bickell his throwing his body around and his line is disruptive and productive.
Prediction The Hawks set the tone for the series early and often in a 4-1 victory.
What is your prediction for tonight’s game?
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