The Chicago Blackhawks sent the Nashville Predators home for the playoffs last night with a come from behind 4-3 victory. With Nashville out of the way the Hawks will turn to their next opponent, who is yet to be determined. The Minnesota Wild have a chance to close out their series against the St. Louis Blues this afternoon and pencil in a second round match up with the Hawks. Which match up would you rather have? The Blackhawks and the Blues, or the Blackhawks and the Wild?
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If St. Louis manages to win their next two games against Minnesota they will set the stage for a second round match up for the ages. St. Louis, who finished first in the central division would have home ice advantage for their second round match up against the Hawks and you can never under estimate the power of home ice. St. Louis is a physical team, but they can also beat you with their finesse. Last year the Blues got the Hawks off their game by finishing their checks and pushing them around. After the first two games the Hawks realized they couldn’t go punch for punch with the Blues when it comes to being physical, so they stuck to their own game and won four straight to advance. St. Louis has an inexperienced goalie in Jake Allen, but he’s proved he’s up to the task especially when it comes to beating the Hawks, which he did twice the last week of the season. St. Louis is a deep team, whether it’s upfront or on the blue line which is always advantageous during the playoffs. Do I want to play the Blues next round? I’d rather not, but if the Hawks were to play them it wouldn’t be the end of the world.
Now to Minnesota. This is a team who I believed should have been competing for a Stanley Cup the last two seasons, but couldn’t seem to find a reliable goalie. Minnesota has now found that in Devan Dubnyk. Without Dubnyk, who was recently nominated for the Vezina trophy, Minnesota would’ve been hard pressed making the playoffs. Minnesota has an excellent top nine with guys like Parise and Granlund leading the way, but even though young guys like Matt Dumba have emerged on the blue line they still lack a deep blue line, unlike St. Louis. The Hawks have sent the Wild home the past two seasons and would look to keep that streak going if Minnesota beats St. Louis this afternoon. Keep in mind that if the Chicago does play Minnesota in the first round they, Chicago, would have home ice advantage.
So Would you rather play the Blues next round or the Wild? I know I would feel a little more confident playing the Wild next round. We made it out of round one, but we still have twelve more games to win. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to follow us Twitter and Facebook for all of your Blackhawks news.