Western Conference semifinals
So let’s just roll out the rest of the final standings, since that’s the only way we can continue doing this projection.
I have the Blackhawks, Wild and Blues finishing first, second and third in the Central, while I have San Jose managing to stave off Anaheim for the Pacific Division’s top spot, with Edmonton sliding into third. That leaves Calgary and Nashville taking the first and second wild-card spots.
Therefore, I have the standings finishing the same as they look today. Not terribly exciting, but it’s what makes the most sense at this point in time.
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Should the Blackhawks get by the Predators — and they’d certainly be favored to do so, by this writer and the general public — a matchup with the winner of the Minnesota/St. Louis series would await. Blackhawks fans, in general, seem entirely disinterested in playing the Blues, I would assume primarily because of Vladimir Tarasenko.
And while I understand Tarasenko is a generational talent, this isn’t a Patrick Kane against the Wild scenario. The Blackhawks would have a far easier road against the Blues in the second round than the Wild. However, unless Minnesota goes on another roll to end the regular season, that’s going to be a team with shaky confidence entering the playoffs.
Plus, the Wild’s “score till the other team submits” style of playing isn’t working out anymore, as Devan Dubnyk is finally bending under the strain of having to carry his defensively-ignorant teammates. The Blackhawks would certainly feast on that with their array of talented and playoff-tested skaters.
I’ll say the Wild get by the Blues in the opening round of this projection setting us up with a Blackhawks-Wild second-round bout. Dubnyk, even struggling, will outplay Jake Allen, and the Wild are just a better team in more facets of the game than the Blues are. I’d really like the Blackhawks to advance through a second-round matchup with the Wild as well.