Give them a rest
Sure, it would be great if the Blackhawks could overtake the Capitals and add the President’s Trophy to the Central Division and Western Conference titles they’ve already clinched. But coach Quenneville will likely find some rest for several key players over the last three games of the season, including core defenders Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Seabrook. All three have appeared less than 100 percent lately, especially Hjammer, who still ranks fifth in the league in blocked shots, but recently committed costly delay of game penalties and turnovers in losses to Tampa Bay and Boston.
Giving these guys a break would also give valuable playing time to Michal Kempny and Michal Rozsival who’ve been mostly absent from the lineup for the past month. The ‘Hawks recently called up Vinnie Hinostroza from Rockford, so he should get some minutes as well.
The Blackhawks have locked up home ice advantage all the way through the conference final, so resting some players now could payoff handsomely downstream if the season runs into June. Now’s not the time to incur needless injuries, like Kane’s split lip during the pre-game warmup against Boston.
First round opponent
The Blackhawks have clinched the Western Conference and will face the second wild card team in the first round. But who will that be? Right now it’s a dizzying set of contenders with Nashville, St. Louis, Calgary and even San Jose all a potential first-round opponent for the ‘Hawks. The Blues beat Nashville 4-1 today and appear to have the inside track for third place in the Central, while the Sharks seem determined to fall from third place in the Pacific down to a wild card slot.
I’d like to see the ‘Hawks play either Calgary or Nashville in the first round. Which team would you like to see them play?