The Chicago Blackhawks were the 3rd seed out of the Central Division entering the playoffs. It was not until the last game of the regular season that they learned their opponent. The Blackhawks faced the struggling St. Louis Blues. The Blues had been one of the front runners in the NHL most of the season. After defeating the Blackhawks in two overtime games, the Blackhawks lead by Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane won four games in row to eliminate the Blues.
In order to win this series Chicago needs to do:
- Have their Super Stars play like Super Stars. Toews has three game winning goals to lead the playoffs. Kane scored the game winner in Game 3 and six points in the series.
- Their depth needs to out play Minnesota’s. Ben Smith, Brandon Saad, Patrick Sharp, and Marian Hossa all need to beat their respective Minnesota counterparts on a consistent basis.
- Corey Crawford needs to shut down Zach Parise. Parise is the Wild biggest offensive weapon and carried them in their first round series.
XFACTOR: Ben Smith, Smith has become a valuable asset for the Blackhawks. He can provide fourth line play, center the second line, and play on the penalty kill. Smith always seems to step up for the Blackhawks at exactly the right time. Smith scored the second goal a must win Game 5.
Meanwhile the Minnesota came into the playoffs on a bit of hot streak. They were the fourth seed in the Central Division. The Wild drew the RED HOT Colorado Avalanche. The Wild were embarrassed in their first two games of the series. Experts were predicting a Colorado Sweep. The Wild made some changes making Darcy Kuemper their starting goalie over Ilya Bryzgalov. The Wild lead by Zach Parise and Ryan Suter upset the Colorado Avalanche in seven games.
In order to win this series Minnesota needs to do:
- They need to score and score often. Parise was the MAN in their first series. He had 10 points in 7 games.
- Great Goaltending: Darcy Kuemper/Illya Brzygalov have to out play Corey Crawford. Crawford was a difference maker in the Blackhawks first series. He greatly outplayed Ryan Miller. If the Wild goalies cannot out play Crawford they will not win.
- Their depth needs to shine: Matt Moulson, Dany Heatley, Nino Niederreiter need to keep scoring clutch goals for the Wild.
XFACTOR: Darcy Kuemper, Kuemper helped turn around the Avalanche series and provided some great goal tending. If he cannot go the Wild must rely on Brzygalov who is a HEADCASE.
PREDICTION: Chicago Blackhawks in 6.
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