Welcome to the Western Conference finals…preview. The series between the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks won’t start until the teams in the East can decide who gets to play for a shot at runner-up to the Stanley Cup. So, for now, we can only talk about what might go down in the first ever playoff meeting between the ’Hawks and Ducks.
And talk about it we will! The ’Hawks got to this point by defeating Nashville in six games and Minnesota in four, while the Ducks received a two-round bye as a result of having the most points in the West. Oh…apparently they did play two rounds, sweeping Winnipeg and nearly sweeping Calgary. I guess we’ll have to touch on that in this article.
So the big question is, why should ’Hawks fans feel confident about their team’s chances to advance to the Stanley Cup final? Here are five reasons.
Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Let’s take five key forwards from each squad. For the ’Hawks, we’ll go with Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa and Brandon Saad. For the Ducks, we’ll choose Lord Voldemort impersonator Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Andrew Cogliano and Jakob Silfverberg. Now, let’s take a look at their playoff histories all-time (including these ongoing playoffs) and see what we come up with:
’Hawks: 558 games, 432 points, 26 conference finals appearances, four players with multiple Cup wins
Ducks: 302 games, 234 points, 8 conference finals appearances, no players with multiple Cup wins
Those are some powerful statistics. Sure, they don’t have direct bearing on the current series; the ’Hawks don’t automatically win Game 1 because of those numbers. But the experience factor definitely comes into play. The ’Hawks’ top producers know they can be victorious at this stage of the playoffs, because they’ve done it before. Meanwhile, the Ducks have struggled to get to this stage up until now despite being in good position to do so on multiple occasions.
Da Windy City
And it isn’t just the top producers or just the forwards. If you combine the career playoff statistics from the rest of the players in both lineups (applying the lineup each team used in its most recent game, minus Michal Rozsival for obvious reasons), here’s what you come up with:
’Hawks: 891 games, 390 points, 42 conference finals appearances, four players with multiple Cup wins
Ducks: 354 games, 131 points, 22 conference finals appearances, no players with multiple Cup wins
You’ll see stories out and about regarding the Ducks being a super deep team for this playoff run. But how much good will that do if the depth doesn’t know how to play under conference final conditions? The pressure is ramped up as a result of being a step from the Stanley Cup Finals. Players are getting more tired as their season, which started in October, moves into the middle of May. And the fear of making a mistake is greatly escalated. The ’Hawks have a plethora of players who can handle that, as this will be the first conference final for only Andrew Desjardins, Teuvo Teravainen and David Rundblad. This is the first ever conference final appearance for all but four Ducks. The effect that could have on any one game, and the series as a whole, shouldn’t be underestimated.