Who’s ready for some playoff hockey?!?!
TSB is, that’s for sure. We’ve sent out a Q&A email to a blog representing every playoff team to get an idea of where each team is heading into the playoffs. Hopefully these will give you some insight on your favorite team or the one they are playing.
1. The Blackhawks steamrolled through the regular season in record-breaking fashion. Is there any worry about a letdown against the 8th seeded Minnesota Wild?
There’s always a worry, because that’s what you do as a sports fan. Especially a Chicago one. But it’s really miniscule this time. The Hawks have had the right tone all year. They didn’t seem to impressed by their record start. They certainly didn’t panic when their game went off for just a bit there, and again didn’t lose the ground when they rebounded late in the year. They know what counts, and I think you’re about to see their best hockey.
2. Most fans don’t care too much about the backup goalie. But how big was Ray Emory for the Blackhawks this season?
He was definitely a surprise, as with that injury and condition you’d think walking would be a struggle. But everyone soon came to realize that with the way the Hawks were playing defense, it didn’t really matter who was in net. The Hawks kind of take the goalie out of the equation by merely asking him to not lose the game. But yes, Razor certainly calmed some nerves around here, and it’s a great story.
3. Has Patrick Kane stopped the party life? Or is he still doing his thing?
I’m sure he still does, but no one around here cares as long as hockey comes first, which it didn’t always with him. But when you’re scorching the Western Conference every night, you can pretty much do whatever you want after the games short of anything involving the cops.
4. Although they won the season series 2-0-1, what kind of series can we expect to see?
Hard to say, as I don’t know how the Wild will play it. They may try and trap it up in the neutral zone because hey can’t skate with the Hawks speed. But they’re not really built for that kind of game. I think either way you’ll see the Wild buried in their own zone for long stretches.
5. We all know about Kane, Toews, and Hossa. Who are some other players fans of Eastern Conference teams should look out for?
Brandon Saad to start. He’s been skating with Toews and Hossa all season and has never looked out of place. The kid’s game is all power and he could be a real weapon when things bog down and you need to drive to open spaces. Michael Frolik has been great on the 4th line and as a penalty killer, and has come up huge in the last two springs at times. Bryan Bickell is another and he’s headed to free agency in the summer. Very good two-way player who’s big and can make things happen when in tight spaces.
6. What part of the Wild’s game will pose the biggest problem for the Blackhawks?
Um…hang on I’ll get this. I suppose the Wild are capable of being heavy on the forecheck, which could be something of an issue at times. But not enough.
7. Only 25 of the Blackhawks 155 goals were scored on the power play this season. For a team that is so high scoring, why the letdown on the man advantage?
Because they don’t move. The PP has little imagination or cycling and is basically a long-winded attempt to hit Sharp on the backdoor, which the league caught up to three years ago. It’s disappointing, because with Kane’s vision if the Hawks moved he could find anyone anywhere. But the power play was middling in 2010 and then snapped to life in the playoffs. That’s the hope again
8. Series Prediction?
The Wild just look short to me in too many areas. They have a great top pairing on D, but not much of anything behind it. Koivu and Parise are great players, but there just isn’t a lot of depth at forward. Backstrom’s a decent goalie, but is he stealing a series? He’s certainly going to be under the gun from the word go. The Hawks are just deeper everywhere. I don’t see it taking more than five games