NHL Playoff Predictions: Chicago Blackhawks' Ideal Matchup in Every Round

Michael Gibbons@DachicagofanCorrespondent IIMarch 27, 2012

NHL Playoff Predictions: Chicago Blackhawks' Ideal Matchup in Every Round

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    The NHL playoffs are fast approaching.

    With only six games left, everyone is scoreboard-watching, because even one point can change the whole playoff picture.

    Currently, the Blackhawks are sixth in the Western Conference with 92 points. They are four points behind the fifth-place Predators and are five points ahead of seventh-place Dallas.

    Unlike in the NCAA tournament or the NBA playoffs, the NHL reseeds after each round. What that means is the top seed will play the lowest remaining seed in the second round.

    Currently, the Blues are in first. If they win, and Dallas were to upset Vancouver, then St. Louis would play Dallas in the second round.

    Therefore, seeding is always very important in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

    Here, I'll try to look ahead at where each team might get seeded and who their opponents might be. If you disagree about a certain matchup, sound off below, and let me know why.

First Round

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    It is increasingly starting to look like the Blackhawks will be locked in as the sixth seed. Therefore, they will face whoever wins the Pacific Division.

    Currently, depending on the night's results, that could be any of the four teams still alive in the playoff hunt.

    As I broke it down last week, I'm not sure if any of these teams are great matchups, but there are sure ones Chicago would like to avoid. Chicago won't want to face Antti Niemi or Jonathan Quick in the playoffs, and the Coyotes also present a tough matchup.

    The least troublesome series probably would against from Dallas. They split the season series at 2-2, with each team winning at home and on the road.

    I think facing the Stars represents the best chance the Hawks have of making it to the second round.

     

    Chicago vs. Dallas This Season:

    October 7 at Dallas: Stars victory, 2-1

    October 8 in Chicago: Hawks victory, 5-2

    February 23 in Chicago: Stars victory, 3-1

    March 16 at Dallas: Hawks victory, 4-1

Second Round

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    Some people may think I am crazy for thinking Chicago's best possible matchup in the second round is against the Vancouver Canucks, but stay with me for a minute.

    There is something to be said about knowing your opponent, and it's hard to say the Blackhawks know anyone as well as they know the Canucks.

    The two teams have met in the playoffs each of the last three seasons, playing a total of 19 times. That doesn't even include the 16 times they have played in the regular season over the last four seasons.

    The Hawks get under the skin of the Canucks, and if you need an example, just look at how chippy the last game was between the two.

    Just like Dallas, the two teams split the season series with each winning at home and on the road. Both won big one game and each won an overtime game.

     

    Chicago vs. Vancouver This Season:

    November 6 in Chicago: Canucks victory, 6-2.

    November 16 at Vancouver: Hawks victory, 5-1

    January 31 at Vancouver: Canucks victory, 3-2 OT

    March 21 in Chicago: Hawks victory, 2-1 OT

     

    Can you just imagine how intense this series could be?

    I'd much rather see Vancouver than St. Louis in the second round, for those who are thinking it.

Western Conference Finals

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    If the Hawks know a team better than Vancouver, then it has to be the Detroit Red Wings.

    While they have only met once in the playoffs recently, they do play each other six times a season. and this year, there have been some good ones. In five meetings so far this season, neither team has won by more than a goal.

    Unlike Nashville and St. Louis, the Red Wings play the same type of hockey as the Hawks, while the other two are extremely physical, which is not a great matchup for Chicago.

    Going through Nashville and St. Louis would be a rough road for the Wings. It could potentially leave them with very little left in the tank.

    If I had my choice, I'd take the Stars and Canucks before I take the Blues and Predators.

     

    Chicago vs. Detroit This Season:

    December 30 in Chicago: Hawks victory, 3-2

    January 8 in Chicago: Wings victory 3-2 OT

    January 14 at Detroit: Wings victory, 3-2 OT

    February 21 in Chicago: Hawks victory, 2-1

    March 4 at Detroit: Hawks victory, 2-1

    April 7 at Detroit

Stanley Cup Finals

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    How much fun would it be to see the Blackhawks take on the Florida Blackhawks, I mean, Panthers?

    In Florida, the Hawks would see plenty of familiar faces including Brian Campbell, Kris Versteeg, John Madden and Jack Skille.

    The Panthers were one of the few Eastern Conference teams the Hawks played twice this season. Chicago won both games with the first going to a shootout.

    Florida might be a long shot to make to the Stanley Cup Finals, but it currently holds the No. 3 seed in the East and is far less imposing then the Rangers or Penguins.

    If somehow the Hawks get all these matchups, I think it is safe to say they will be hoisting the Cup for the second time in three years.

     

    Chicago vs. Florida This Season:

    November 3 at Florida: Hawks victory, 3-2 in a shootout

    January 20 in Chicago: Hawks victory, 3-1