Chicago Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup Playoffs Matchups Projection

By Colin Likas
Mar 19, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; The Chicago Blackhawks celebrate after Chicago Blackhawks left wing Richard Panik (14) during the third period of the game against the Colorado Avalanche at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 19, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; The Chicago Blackhawks celebrate after Chicago Blackhawks left wing Richard Panik (14) during the third period of the game against the Colorado Avalanche at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
2 of 4
Next

Western Conference quarterfinals

First off, I’m going to project the Blackhawks win both the Central Division and Western Conference crowns. Not really sure about the President’s Cup, but I’m not going to project Stanley Cup Final matchups in this post, so we’ll save that for another time.

I think the Blackhawks will stay warm enough and the Wild inconsistent enough to give Chicago both titles. San Jose has lost its last four games, so it’s going to need a serious finishing kick to take the Western Conference at this point.

So, that slots the Blackhawks as the top overall seed in the West, therefore starting postseason play against the second wild card. Should the season end right now, that’d be the Nashville Predators, tied in points with St. Louis but also carrying four fewer regulation/overtime wins.

Now, while it might seem like the second wild card is down to just St. Louis and Nashville, I don’t think that’s necessarily true. I could see Calgary or Edmonton also slipping into the spot, as the Preds and Blues have just three fewer points than the Flames (with a game in hand) and only four fewer than the Oilers (still with a game in hand).

Chicago Blackhawks

Nashville has been the “weakest” of these four teams in the last 10 games, going 5-3-2. The Preds also aren’t going to be helped by a remaining schedule that boasts five current playoff teams and another that’s fighting to get in, that being the New York Islanders (whom the Preds still play twice).

St. Louis has a cupcake schedule to close, facing Vancouver, Colorado twice, Arizona twice, Winnipeg, Florida and Carolina among its last 10 games. The Blues should be good for third in the Central. I don’t think the Wild will fall far enough to give them a shot at second place.

Calgary will have its mettle tested down the stretch, facing Nashville, St. Louis, Los Angeles twice, San Jose twice and Anaheim twice over its final nine games. That could be enough to boot the Flames to the second wild card, out from the first spot they’re currently in.

Edmonton has a somewhere-in-the-middle remaining schedule with Colorado and Vancouver twice apiece, but also Los Angeles and San Jose twice apiece to go with a single meeting against Anaheim. Seems more likely the Oilers will finish in the Pacific’s top three.

So I think the Blackhawks will open the playoffs by hosting either Calgary or Nashville. I’m going to say the Preds do the honors, as they’re playing just average hockey right now, and their remaining schedule doesn’t offer a ton of chances to pile up points on average play.

facebooktwitterreddit