The Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild are sure getting used to being familiar foes.
Not only have the Wild moved in to the Blackhawks’ Central Division as part of the 2013-14 Western Conference shakeup, but for the third straight year, both teams will do battle against each other in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Since the start of the 2013 shortened season, the Blackhawks and Wild have met 24 times, making each team the other’s most common opponent in that span.
The Blackhawks and Wild kick off their Western Conference Semi-Final series on Friday night in Chicago, and many are expecting this series to go the distance, as each team tries to advance to the Western Conference Final; For the Blackhawks, it would be their fifth trip in seven years, and for the Wild, it would be their first since being swept by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in 2002-03.
Below, we list our top three reasons why the Blackhawks will be the team getting to the Playoffs’ half-way mark, and moving on.
#3: Home-Ice Advantage
Though it seems cliché, the thought of the Blackhawks holding home-ice advantage in the playoffs was somewhat of a long-shot just a few weeks ago.
However, the series will begin at the United Center on Friday, as the Wild knocked off the Central Division champion St. Louis Blues to advance, all the way from the first Western Conference Wild Card seed.
The match-up is bound to be a close one, as the Wild nearly stole the 3rd-place Central Division position away from the Blackhawks with days remaining in the regular season. After seeing the effect playing at home had on the Blackhawks in the first round, nevertheless, Chicago fans should get excited about the Blackhawks having the home-ice advantage coming in.
The Blackhawks were 3-0 at home in the first round, and that turned out to be all they needed, after stealing a Game One win in Nashville. The Wild will have to do the same thing, if they want to advance, and they are 0-6 in the United Center in their past six trips there.
It remains to be seen if the Blackhawks will feed off their home crowd the same way they did in the Quarterfinals, but with one of the loudest and proudest fan-bases behind them, it is almost a sure bet.