Tonight the Chicago Blackhawks have a chance to officially eliminate the Minnesota Wild from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and advance to the next round. A win tonight, would obviously been in the Blackhawks best interests, but there is a great advantage to winning a playoff series in such a quick fashion.
1. Injured players get extra time for their wounds to heal.
Dave Bolland and Ray Emery have been unable to suit-up and play for the Hawks thus far in the playoffs. While it doesn’t seem like Emery would have played anyways, due to the exceptional play from Corey Crawford, coach Quenneville would definitely feel more comfortable having the experienced Emery, who had a fantastic season backing up Crawford, instead of Henrik Karlsson, who only has 26 games of NHL experience.
As for Bolland, the fact that he has missed all of the first round of the series thus far, is eerily similar to the 2011 playoffs, when he missed the first 3 games of the series against the Vancouver Canucks. All eerie similarities stop there, however. In that series, the Hawks were down 3 games to none, and Bolland’s return sparked a remarkable, yet ill-fated come-back, where the Hawks lost in overtime of game 7. This time, the Hawks are very distant from the desperation they felt in that series. Bolland is one of those players that seemingly comes alive in the post-season, no matter how his regular season was.
The Hawks would very much welcome both players returns, but there is no rush at the moment, and a a few extra days off rather than playing more games against the Wild, would be perfect for the Hawks and both players recoveries.
2. A breather for the players logging huge minutes, every night.
You could almost call this the Duncan Keith factor. Players like Keith, who are often on the ice for nearly 30 minutes per game, would welcome any extra rest to catch their breath for the next series. This also includes any player that has a bruise or any light injury(that we are unaware of) that could be a hindrance, or turn into something worse. These such injurys would have a little extra time to heal, and that could go a long ways for the Blackhawks playoff success.
3. A little extra rest gives the Blackhawks a possible jump on their next opponent.
Along with a chance for the Hawks to catch their breath, a little extra time dealing with putting the Wild away, means a little extra time to practice and prepare. We won’t know who the Hawks next opponent will be until the rest of the Western Conference playoff series wrap-up and the tournament has re-seeded. The only team that has already advanced to the next round is the San Jose Sharks, who swept the Vancouver Canucks. The Sharks are doing what the Hawks would like to start doing very soon, which is rest and work out internal kinks. Until the Hawks know for sure who their next opponent will be, game planning will have to wait, but that doesn’t mean they can’t work on some internal game planning, like the Sharks are doing. While the Sharks are no doubt catching a breather, they are also practicing, staying game-ready, and working on improving themselves as much as they can in this time of luxury. We can all agree that the Hawks Powerplay unit is full of kinks. If the Hawks can defeat the Wild tonight, they will be able to catch that breather, as well as practice and work on their lackluster Powerplay. Say, the Hawks do in fact defeat the Wild tonight, and use the extra time off to work on fixing their hibernating Powerplay, and let’s say they actually do fix it. Then, they would have productively used their earned time off to gain an edge over their next opponent.
This is no way, shape or form meant as a way to jinx the Blackhawks and their still on-going series against the Wild. Nor is this disrespecting the Wild’s slim, but real chances of coming back in this series. This article is meant to point out the possible huge, hidden opportunity gained with a Hawks win/series victory, tonight.