Playoff Team Stats
|G/PG||3.17 (3rd)||2.83 (5th)|
|GA/PG||3.50 (15th)||2.33 (t-8th)|
|PP%||15.8% (9th)||33.3% (1st)|
|PK%||72.7% (t-13th)||81.8% (9th)|
Playoff Point Leaders
|Jonathan Toews||3G / 5A = 8 Points||Zach Parise||3G / 4A = 7 Points|
|Duncan Keith||2G / 5A = 7 Points||Jason Pominville||2G / 3A = 5 Points|
|Patrick Kane||2G / 5A = 7 Points||Mikael Granlund||1G / 4A = 5 Points|
Playoff Goalie Stats
|Scott Darling||3W / 2.21 GAA / .936 SV%||Devan Dubnyk||4W / 2.32 GAA / .913 SV%|
|Corey Crawford||1W / 4.19 GAA / .850 SV%||Darcy Kuemper||0W / 0.00 GAA / 1.000 SV%|
Each of these teams went into the first round as the lower seed and both of them emerged victorious in six games.
This will be the third consecutive season that these two teams have met in the playoffs. In 2013 the Chicago Blackhawks knocked off the Minnesota Wild in the first round in five games. Last year they did it again, getting by the Wild in six games in the Western Conference Semifinals.
Chicago beat Nashville despite having to go to their backup goaltender, Scott Darling. Their regular number-1, Corey Crawford, struggled in the first two games, but Darling filled in admirably and outplayed Pekka Rinne for the majority of the series. Heading into Game 1 vs. the Wild, the Blackhawks will go back to Crawford after Darling was pulled in their Game 6 win over the Predators.
As for the Wild, they had no goaltending issues, which has been the case since they acquired Devan Dubnyk back in mid-January. During the regular season he was 27-9-2 with a 1.78 GAA and .936 SV%, but he entered the playoffs with zero postseason experience. Did it matter? Nope. He picked up right where he left off, posting a 2.32 GAA and .913 SV% in six games vs. the Blues.
These were two of the highest scoring teams in the first round and that shouldn’t come as a surprise when you look at the forwards on the two rosters.
For the Blackhawks, there is not many playoff performers like their captain Jonathan Toews. He led the team with eight points (3G / 5A) in the first round, which gives him 89 career playoff points in 100 games. His line mates Marian Hossa and Brandon Saad combined for two goals and five assists in the first round, but it was the return of Patrick Kane that makes the Blackhawks a top pick to win their third Stanley Cup in six seasons. Despite missing the final 21 games of the regular season with a broken clavicle, Kane returned for Game 1 and posted seven points (2G / 5A) vs. the Predators.
Chicago’s offence is a little more dangerous and has more playoff experience, but the Wild’s offence was strong in Round 1. They are led by the ultra competitive Zach Parise, who was the only player over a point-per-game vs. St. Louis. Last season, 23-year-old Mikael Granlund and 22-year-old Nino Niederreiter made a splash in the playoffs and they did it again in the first round. Granlund is one of the NHL’s best, young playmakers and he proved that with one goal and four assists. Niederreiter proved clutch with two game winners last year and had another vs. the Blues. Veterans Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek are key to the Wild’s success as well. Pominville is as consistent of a winger as you will find, but you definitely can’t say the same about Vanek. He choked with the Canadiens last year and has failed to score a goal so far this year.
On the blue line there is no shortage of big names either. Duncan Keith had the same amount of points as Kane (2G / 5A) and thanks to a double OT game and a triple OT finish, Keith logged 32:03 TOI per game in the first round. He is joined by Brent Seabrook, who was sensational in the postseason last year (15 points in 16 games) and had four points in the first round, including the game winner in the triple overtime thriller.
For Minny, they are anchored by Ryan Suter, who can play an inhuman amount of minutes on any given night. He averaged 26:05 in round one, but only recorded one assist in six games. He leads a group that consists of two 25 year olds (Marco Scandella, Jared Spurgeon), a 21-year-old (Jonas Brodin) and a 20-year-old (Matt Dumba). They’re young, but they’re good at both ends of the rink. Spurgeon, Scandella and Dumba combined for four goals and three assists vs. the Blues. However, the lack of experience could come back to bite them against a Hawks team who have had their number and who have a ton of experience in this situation.
Series Prediction: Blackhawks win in 6.
Leading Scorer: Patrick Kane
Series X-Factor: Devan Dubnyk