With the playoffs on the horizon, I wanted to put together previews of each series, but more specifically, I wanted to put together the type of previews I’d want to read. Bite-sized, few stats, some opinion, and maybe a look back at a key moment between the teams. This is my attempt at providing that.
1) Chicago Blackhawks vs. 8) Minnesota Wild
Head-to-Head in 2013: 2-1 Blackhawks
A stat: The Minnesota North Stars and Chicago Blackhawks played each other six times in 10 years (82-91). Wild/Blackhawks have never played each other in playoffs.
Goal differentials: Blackhawks: +53, Wild: -5
Shots-per-game: Blackhawks: 31.1 (5th), Minnesota: 28.8 (17th)
Shots-against-per-game: Blackhawks: 26.2 (4th), Minnesota: 27.1 (6th)
CHI: Corey Crawford, .926 save percentage, 1.94 goals-against average
MIN: Niklas Backstrom, .909 save percentage, 2.48 goals-against average
MIN: Zach Parise, 38 points in 48 games
CHI: Patrick Kane, 55 points in 47 games
Reason to watch: To see if Minnesota can find a way to keep their head above water. Between the Kane/Toews/Sharp/Hossa thing, the great d-corps and the proven success this season (Presidents’ Trophy, y’all), odds are pretty heavily in the Blackhawks favour.
Lately: Minnesota: 4-5-1, Chicago: 7-2-1
Injuries (via NHL.com): Emery (lower body) and center Dave Bolland (undisclosed) are each day-to-day. … For the Wild, Pominville (head) is day-to-day and Dany Heatley (left shoulder) is out the remainder of the season.
News: Both Ray Emery and Dave Bolland are going to miss at least the first game.
First game: Tuesday, 8:00 p.m. EST
Flippant barstool opinion: Wild are gonna get smoked.
By now everyone is aware of the top-end talent that Chicago has up front, but you shouldn’t overlook how solid they are on the back-end. Having good defenders allows your talented players to get more touches, and as we know with skill players, they’re going to convert at a certain rate – the more opportunities they’re given, the more goals they’re going to put on the board.
Prediction: Blackhawks in four.
Your NHL.com preview: