Anyone who has watched hockey over the past half-decade understands the Chicago Blackhawks’ rise to perennial Stanley Cup Contender status. After qualifying for the playoffs for the first time in 7 years in 2009, they took it all the way to the Western Conference Final, where they lost to the eventual Stanley Cup Champions, the Detroit Red Wings.
In the five years since, the first-round series that includes the Blackhawks has produced one of the contenders in the Western Conference final. In four of those years, it has produced a Stanley Cup Final contender. Twice, it has been the Blackhawks, and both times, they have won it all.
It’s easy to see that the Blackhawks’ first-round series with the Nashville Predators will garner the attention of fans league-wide. Before we look ahead, however, we must look back. Today, we rank all of the Blackhawks’ first-round series’ over the past six years. These series are not ranked based on result, rather, excitement, and memorability. Please feel free to leave your own ranking in the comments section below!
#6- 2013: Blackhawks vs. Wild
The Chicago Blackhawks dominated the NHL’s regular season, earning themselves the President’s Trophy and #1 seed with a handful of games left on the schedule. The Minnesota Wild, however, used all 82, getting into the playoffs for the first time since 2008, on the final day of the season.
The Wild showed no signs of being an eighth seed in Game One, taking the early lead with a Cal Clutterbuck marker early in the first period. It stood for less than 20 minutes, as Marian Hossa‘s power-play goal tied the game at one. The teams could find no offense in the remaining regulation time, so the game headed to overtime. After two brilliant passes from Johnny Oduya and Viktor Stahlberg, Bryan Bickell delivered a Game One win with the biggest goal of his career to date.
In Game Two, the Blackhawks could owe their 5-2 victory to two players; Michael Frolik, and Patrick Sharp. Both Chicago forwards scored back-to-back goals, giving and extending a Blackhawks lead that the team never surrendered.
The Blackhawks scored first in Game Three, but it did not stand long, as goals by (now Blackhawk) Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Zach Parise gave the Wild their first lead in over a game and a half of hockey. The resilient ‘Hawks tied it up with under 3 to go with a Duncan Keith blast, but Jason Zucker found some rookie magic for the Wild, scoring 2:15 into over-time to cut the Blackhawks’ series lead to 2-1.
The Blackhawks weren’t about to let the Wild back into the series with a home win, and they delivered, with a convincing 3-0 victory in Game Four. Patrick Sharp‘s goals in the first and second were all the Blackhawks needed, as Bickell added the icing on the cake mid-way through the third. No one was getting past Corey Crawford, who stopped all 25 shots the Wild put his way in the shutout effort.
With Chicago looking to close out the series in the United Center, Game Five was another one-sided affair, this time, for the home team. For the second straight game, Corey Crawford‘s great game was supported by tons of offense, most notably in this one, from Marian Hossa. His three-point night led the Blackhawks to a Game Five victory, an important stepping stone in their run to the 2013 Stanley Cup.