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Blackhawks Fri Apr 12 2013

Possible Playoff Opponents For The Blackhawks

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.pngAfter a season of an immense rise in popularity, a Sports Illustrated cover and a record setting points streak, the Chicago Blackhawks are just about set for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. After all, winning the whole thing is the biggest priority. Anything short of a Cup victory, and this lockout-shortened season will be looked at as an abject failure. No one is going to care about all the exciting things the team did this season if a trophy doesn't come home in June.

Case in point, recent seasons saw the Vancouver Canucks and the Washington Capitals breeze through their seasons to win the President's Cup but not Lord Stanley's Cup. No one in Chicago wants a regular season trophy. The "One Goal" slogan isn't about that.

Since the Blackhawks were the first in the National Hockey League to clinch a playoff spot, looking ahead to possible first round opponents doesn't seem premature even though there are still nine games left in the season. Yes, there at least four other teams within striking distance of the Red Wings for the last playoff spot, but only two have a realistic shot at matching up with the Hawks in round one.

Detroit Red Wings - The current leaders in the clubhouse; it would be fitting for the original six rivals to meet in the playoffs before realignment takes place next season. The Red Wings aren't nearly as deep as the Blackhawks. Remember when the Blackhawks only used two lines on the power play too keep the pressure on the last time they played? Not to mention Detroit's bench has looked like a hospital triage area. One guy comes off injured reserve and another is waiting to take his place. They have a little bit left in the tank but the boys from Madison Street have way too much fire power for them to handle.

Phoenix Coyotes - The Blackhawks already know this isn't the team they faced in the first round last season. Don't expect for Coyotes net-minder Mike Smith to carry this team to a playoff series win this time around. Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa have gotten healthy at the right time, and that's terrible news for any of their opponents. The scouting report says to rough up the Blackhawks. The Coyotes will muck things up as much as they can, but ultimately team speed will be the death knell for a city that shouldn't have a hockey team in the first place. As Chicago Bulls announcer Stacey King would say: "Too big, too strong, too fast, too good."

In both potential matchups, the Blackhawks should have no problems handling things in five games or less. Head and shoulders above the competition is the theme here. Any team that faces the Hawks in the first round are in for a short series.

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