Chicago Blackhawks: Why Winning Game 3 Would Be Gravy

By Colin Likas
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Writer’s note: This is going to be a statistical and “history says…” type of article, so if you’re not into that…stick around anyway, because you’re probably still a Chicago Blackhawks fan and it’s fun to read about the ’Hawks. If you are into that type of article, hooray!

So the ’Hawks got the job done in the first two games of their second-round series against the Minnesota Wild. They maintained home-ice advantage and made sure the Wild would need to win four of five, including at least one at the United Center, to move on.

Since many — including some on this site — previously said this would not be an easy series for the ’Hawks, the fact that they’re now up 2-0 likely has some fans chomping at the bit for a series sweep. And no one should be blamed for that. It’s fun to win everything.

But here are two things to think about before Game 3:

—The ’Hawks are unlikely to win tonight

—And that, ultimately, is not such a big deal

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  • Of course, the chances of the ’Hawks winning any game in this series are technically 50/50. Either they win or they lose. There’s just a good chance they won’t win on this particular evening.

    But if the ’Hawks do win tonight, we can start talking under our collective breath about the Chicago-Anaheim Western Conference Finals series.

    Let’s break this down in two parts:

    Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

    Why we shouldn’t expect a ’Hawks’ win tonight. Frankly, many of us expect the ’Hawks to come out and win every game. They’re a talented bunch that looks unstoppable when they’re on (and even when they’re off, sometimes). Let’s get this out right now: You should still go into Game 3 believing the ’Hawks will win and rooting your head off.

    Now here’s why the ’Hawks are more likely to drop this game than any other in the series. Under Joel Quenneville and with “The Core” intact, the ’Hawks haven’t won many Game 3s. That’s especially true when a series’ Game 3 is on the road. In 17 playoff series under Q, the ’Hawks have won Game 3 five times. Ten of those Game 3s were on the road, and the ’Hawks have won a whopping one of them (at Vancouver in 2010). In case you were curious, the other four wins came at home against Detroit in 2009, San Jose in 2010, St. Louis in 2014 and Nashville this season. Over all 17 of these third games, the ’Hawks have been outscored 49-36.

    But let’s just say, hypothetically, that the ’Hawks lose tonight. It isn’t cause for anyone wearing an Indian Head to panic. The chances of the ’Hawks sweeping the Wild coming into this series, based both on the Wild’s previous success and the ’Hawks having one playoff sweep in 17 series since 2009, weren’t great. Additionally, the Wild haven’t won a playoff game at the United Center during any of their playoff series against the ’Hawks over the last three seasons, and they’d need to take at least one at the Madhouse to win this series. On top of that, the ’Hawks’ record in Games 4-7 under Quenneville is a robust 36-13. And for a bit of recent history, the Wild took Games 3 and 4 at Xcel Energy Center in 2014 after the ’Hawks had won the first two in that year’s Western Conference semifinal series. We all know how that series turned out. Basically, if the ’Hawks drop Game 3 tonight, they’re still in better shape than most. And if they end up winning it, this series is essentially over.

    So there’s the history that might’ve taken you into panic mode and right back out again. But this game doesn’t have to end with a Minnesota victory, right? Right.