The Chicago Blackhawks are looking to make this a short series against the Minnesota Wild.
The Chicago Blackhawks needed overtime to beat the Minnesota Wild 2-1 in Game 1 of this first-round playoff series. Tuesday's game revealed an unexpectedly slow start for the Blackhawks in a game where the Minnesota Wild almost stole the win.
Fortunately for the Blackhawks, the Madhouse on Madison was able to breathe a sigh of relief after Bryan Bickell scored near the end of the overtime period.
Let's hope this first game was a wake-up call for the Blackhawks.
Here are my picks for the rest of the Blackhawks-Wild playoff series.
Viktor Stalberg's speed is sure to be a factor in the remaining games of the series.
After the less-than-satisfactory start to Tuesday's game by the Blackhawks, I expect the Hawks to come out strong Friday.
The Hawks will be the first to light the lamp in the first period and will control the pace of the game. The fast pace of the Blackhawks' play will be too much for the Wild to handle. With Corey Crawford's solid play, Chicago will limit the Wild to one goal.
Prediction: Chicago Blackhawks 3, Minnesota Wild 1
Game-winner: Jonathan Toews
Zach Parise will ensure the Wild a win at the Xcel Energy Center.
Although as a Hawks fan I hope the Blackhawks will sweep the Wild, it's not realistic. Following a demoralizing loss in Chicago to go down 2-0 in the series, the Wild will carry the momentum in the game with some help from their fans.
The Blackhawks will play well in this game but won't be able to get a puck past Josh Harding until the third period. This battle in the hockey state will go to the Wild thanks to an impressive performance by their goaltender.
Prediction: Minnesota Wild 2, Chicago Blackhawks 1
Game-Winner: Mikko Koivu
Patrick Kane's past playoff performances have made him one of the best postseason players in the NHL.
With the series at 2-1, the Blackhawks will distance themselves from the Wild in their fourth game of the first round.
The Hawks had the best road record in the NHL and went 18-4-2 over the 48-game season. This game at the Xcel Center will only reinforce this statistic.
Winning this game will set the stage for eliminating the Wild from the playoffs in Chicago.
Prediction: Chicago Blackhawks 2, Minnesota Wild 0
Game-Winner: Marian Hossa
The Blackhawks will embrace the opportunity to advance to the second round in front of their home crowd.
May 9 will be the day the Blackhawks impress their fans and advance to the second round of the NHL playoffs for the first time since 2010.
Elimination fears can't even propel the Wild past the Hawks. The Blackhawks have too much offensive and defensive depth.
Meanwhile, a new division rivalry will be established between Chicago and Minnesota.
Prediction: Chicago Blackhawks 3, Minnesota Wild 2
Game-Winner: Brandon Saad
Chicago Blackhawks win the series 4-1