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Chicago Blackhawks Morning Links: Conference Finals Await

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May 10, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Edmonton Oilers left wing Milan Lucic (27) plays for the puck against Anaheim Ducks center Rickard Rakell (67) during the third period in game seven of the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
May 10, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Edmonton Oilers left wing Milan Lucic (27) plays for the puck against Anaheim Ducks center Rickard Rakell (67) during the third period in game seven of the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /
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While some Chicago Blackhawks fans slept last night, the conference finals field was determined and left us with four teams vying for the Stanley Cup

Good morning, Chicago Blackhawks fans. Welcome to the next round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, whether you’ve continued paying attention or not.

After the Nashville Predators ousted the St. Louis Blues and the Ottawa Senators dispatched the New York Rangers, both in six games, the other two conference semifinal series were left to be decided Wednesday. And boy, did the four teams involved put on a show.

First, the Washington Capitals hosted the Pittsburgh Penguins. While a possible feel-good story could have seen the Caps topping the defending Cup champs to overcome a 3-1 deficit and get one step closer to finally putting Alex Ovechkin in a Final, that was not meant to be.

Bryan Rust and Patric Hornqvist scored in the second and third periods, respectively, while Marc-Andre Fleury didn’t allow any of the 29 shots he faced to hit the twine, sending Pittsburgh on to the Eastern Conference finals. It also made the Penguins the only correct final four pick in my initial NHL.com bracket. Thanks, Penguins!

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In the later game, the Edmonton Oilers visited the Anaheim Ducks and got on the board first. Drake Caggiula took advantage of some poor puck movement from the Ducks in their own zone to give Edmonton a first-period lead. But the Ducks clawed back, and Nick Ritchie‘s early third-period marker was the deciding goal.

Who’ve you got the rest of the way?

And so our final four is a strange one, pitting the Predators against the Ducks and the Senators against the Penguins.

The Pens are the defending Cup champs, which certainly doesn’t guarantee you anything in this day and age. The Ducks are the team that keeps winning its division before falling apart in the postseason. The Preds and Sens, meanwhile, have to be near or at the top of the list when it comes to teams you wouldn’t have expected to make it this far.

At this point, it almost seems like trying to predict what will happen is pointless. The Predators keep defying expectations, while the Ducks have always fallen at the feet of them. The Senators seem like an extremely uncertain commodity (outside Erik Karlsson), while you wonder how much more the Penguins can take, considering the toll a second straight Cup run takes.

I’m going for a very yellow Stanley Cup Final matchup. I’ll take the Predators in six games and the Penguins in six as well. The Western Conference series starts Friday at 8 p.m. in California, while the Eastern Conference series kicks off Saturday at 6 p.m. in Pennsylvania.

Now, let’s get to some Chicago Blackhawks morning links.

Next: Anthony Louis Most Exciting Blackhawks Prospect

Chicago Blackhawks morning links

— Bob Verdi gives us the scoop on Blackhawks prospect Alex DeBrincat. Chicago Blackhawks

— More on the conference finals schedule. NHL.com

— It’s important to know what Sir Charles thinks. theScore

— One of Wednesday’s results brought good news for a Central Division team. SportsDay

— I’d certainly vote for him. NHL Players Association

— Blackhawks prospects having success. Second City Hockey

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