Play-in series predictions of what to expect from the Chicago Blackhawks
By Shaun Filippelli
The Chicago Blackhawks will begin their 2020 Stanley Cup journey on August 1 and will need to win their Qualifying Round to move on and into the playoffs.
In any other year, finishing in 12th place within the conference wouldn’t punch your ticket towards the post-season. But this one is different and the Chicago Blackhawks found their way in.
Facing off against the Western Conference’s 5th ranked Edmonton Oilers to kick things off, they join the teams that are all taking part in the play-in round. Winners from those eight match-ups then progress into the more traditional 16-team playoff format.
This restart to the 2019-20 campaign creates an open landscape for all taking part. It no longer matters where they placed throughout the year, as every franchise involved can set their sights forward to the Stanley Cup.
It won’t be an easy road for the Blackhawks. Edmonton has the top two point producers across the NHL, with Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid leading the league from this past season.
But let’s not forget about Chicago’s proven players, like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, who have earned reputations of their own over the years. Rising stars like Alex DeBrincat and Dominik Kubalik will certainly contribute, too.
Beyond Edmonton’s top point-getters helping them lock into their 5th place finish, how does the overall talent throughout these rosters really compare?
Despite the fact that losing teams from the qualifiers will be part of the second phase of the NHL’s draft lottery for first overall pick, don’t expect Chicago to tank.
As much as this is a team that didn’t perform to the level they made their norm last decade, they still have the star power to produce like few other organizations around the league.
From a veteran leadership group setting the tone, to underrated acquisitions in recent seasons, and talent amongst their youth that could prove to be the difference, this Blackhawks team is primed to play.
Time will tell if the Blackhawks can turn this campaign around and move on throughout the post-season, where their next opponent can only be the highest remaining seed if they do.
Here are some predictions of what we can expect from the Chicago Blackhawks for this series.
Going the Distance
Chicago will have a rested and rejuvenated squad and they’ll come out stronger than many may anticipate. But Edmonton is a team that’s looking to finally earn the type of success Chicago has recently enjoyed.
This will be a fast-paced and electrifying match-up. The Oilers should not be taken lightly and will throw everything Chicago’s way, but the leadership throughout the Blackhawks will prove to be the added edge required for this fight.
It will be a back and forth battle, with Chicago needing all five games to close this one out.
Back to Creative Coaching
Chicago’s dynasty throughout the 2010s was no coincidence and it was beyond simply getting the most out of timely playoff performers like Patrick Sharp, Dave Bolland, and Brent Seabrook.
What made those teams even more dangerous than their rosters already entailed, was how each shift was strategically structured. Joel Quenneville was no stranger to creative lineup changes, whether between games or right within them.
That page will be ripped out and used in Jeremy Colliton‘s own post-season playbook, as we’ll see a lot more adjusting on the go.
Chicago Scores More
With arguably the best player in the world, it would be easy to bet on McDavid’s Oilers outscoring Kane and his Blackhawks. Yet, looking deeper into how each lineup really compares could paint a different picture.
Once you move past Draisaitl and McDavid, the Oilers see a steep drop in overall production throughout their roster from that point onward. Whereas the Blackhawks managed to be much more balanced in that respect.
Chicago will see more of their players across the score sheet than Edmonton, achieving higher cumulative goal totals.
No Issues in Net
Although Corey Crawford is back, his future with the Blackhawks is uncertain. But there’s no denying the impact he’s capable of having and it would be a welcomed sight to see him between the pipes.
There is still speculation about whether Crawford will be their starter. With backup support coming from unproven goalies like Malcolm Subban, Collin Delia, and Kevin Lankinen, fans are skeptical.
However, whoever ends up in their crease will be less of a narrative than it currently is. They will get the job done and shut things down for this team.
This era of the Chicago Blackhawks includes too much winning for them to justify anything less than the highest of competition levels coming out of their locker room. They have a chance to redeem their season and they’ll take it.