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 /
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Western Conference finals

So after getting through the Central Division, the Blackhawks would have one of four Pacific Division teams to square off against in the conference finals, in this projection.

Our quarterfinal bouts in the Pacific would be San Jose-Calgary and Anaheim-Edmonton. I think the Sharks are just better than the Flames, and have the added benefit of coming off a Stanley Cup Final run last season. Brian Elliott won’t hold up forever in net, and the Sharks will prevail there.

In the other matchup, I like Edmonton defeating Anaheim. The Ducks struggle to shed the tag of “playoff chokers,” and they’ve struggled to be anything more than what gets produced by Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler this season. John Gibson‘s health in net is questionable, and how many times is Jonathan Bernier going to pull a 40-something save shutout in the postseason?

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  • The Oilers, meanwhile, have ton of exciting talent and a goaltender with growing confidence in Cam Talbot. While the defense is sketchy, I’m not sure the Ducks have enough firepower to take advantage.

    So that leaves us with San Jose-Edmonton for a spot against Chicago in this projection’s conference final. And while picking the Sharks would make a ton of sense, I feel like the Oilers can get on a roll and stun their way through their divisional playoffs.

    It’d also make, at least for my money, the most intriguing conference final matchup possible in the West. The Blackhawks, a team that failed for so long and built up from the inside to become a three-time Cup winner, against the Oilers, a team that failed for so long and is trying to do the same today.

    While the Blackhawks would have an advantage in many key areas against the Oilers, Edmonton’s team speed would be problematic for Chicago. That alone could make this a closer series than one might expect.

    Conclusions

    My current projection, then, has the Blackhawks facing the Oilers in the conference finals, and I’ll say the Blackhawks prevail in six games to earn a spot in the Stanley Cup Final.

    Tons could happen between now and then to shake up the West standings. One rogue winning or losing streak could throw this all into chaos. But that’s part of the fun of doing projections: You don’t know what’s going to happen next.

    Ultimately, I think the Blackhawks should be favored to win the West regardless of how the rest of the regular season plays out. The Wild’s aura of dominance has long since dissipated, and there’s no other team that’s grabbed the bull by the horns so successfully as the Blackhawks this season, at least not in the West.

    Next: Blackhawks' 3 Most Surprising Players This Season

    As for what would happen in a Stanley Cup Final … that’s a discussion for another day. The Metropolitan Division alone has four Cup contenders, and no one should sleep on Montreal if Carey Price gets going. The last few weeks of the regular season should be a blast.

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