For the second straight year, the Chicago Blackhawks have eliminated the Vancouver Canucks in six games during the second round of the playoffs and once again make their way to the Western Conference Finals. Awaiting their arrival is the San Jose Sharks who have been resting and waiting since rolling the Winged Wheels to the curb last weekend.
This matchup pits the top-two seeds out west. Oddly enough…it’s still possible that the 7th and 8th seeds in the east could meet in the ECF.
The Sharks will be making their first trip to the WCF since 2004 when they were beaten by the Calgary Flames 4 games to 2. Last year the Red Wings did away with the Hawks in five games.
San Jose finished the season with a record of 51-20-11 for 113 to win the Pacific Division while Chicago went 52-22-8 for 112 points winning the Central. The Blackhawks scored seven more goals during the regular season than did San Jose…they also allowed six fewer goals.
As for their regular season matchups, Chicago took 3 of the 4 games played between the two…twice in overtime. The Blackhawks won a 4-3 overtime game on November 15 in Chicago, then traveled to San Jose ten days later to crush the Sharks 7-2. The Sharks returned to the windy city to take a 3-2 regulation decision just before Christmas and on January 28 the Hawks traveled back to California to win 4-3 in OT.
Who wins Western Conference Finals?
Total Voters: 175
If I’m not mistaken…I believe this is the first ever matchup between the two teams during the playoffs.
As a team, the Sharks are scoring goals at a rate of 3.03 per game in the playoffs and allowing 2.54 GA/G, which is second only to Philadelphia’s 2.50. Their power play is 21.6 % effective while they’ve been killing off 21.6% of the penalties they face. Chicago’s offense is netting 3.33 goals per game…tied with Pittsburgh for the most of all remaining teams…and the Blackhawks are surrendering 2.75 GA/G. They have scored on 19.3% of their man advantages and their PK is successful 84.2% of the time thus far.
San Jose’s Evgeni Nabokov is 8-3 after the first two rounds with a 2.43 GAA, .907 SV% and one shutout. On the other end of the ice will be Chicago’s Antti Niemi who is now 8-4 with a 2.57 GAA, .909 SV% and 2 SO.
Joe Pavelski leads the Sharks’ attack with 9 goals and 6 assists. He’s launched 52 shots on goal…tied with Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin…and is a +7 in the post-season. Joe Thornton has 3 goals and 8 assists while Dany Heatley has 2 goals and 9 assists.
Jonathan Toews now has 20 overall points, 6 goals and 14 assists, and leads all skaters in the playoffs. Patrick Kane scored his seventh of the post-season in Chicago’s 5-1 clincher in Vancouver Tuesday night and he now has 15 overall points. Patrick Sharp has 14 points…5 goals and 9 assists.
So…who do you like to make it out of the west to the Stanley Cup Finals? This is a tough one for me, but going into the playoffs I predicted the Blackhawks would make it there… so I’m gonna stick with that pick, saying they will survive the Sharks in seven very entertaining games.
We could learn the two Eastern Conference finalists tonight. Game seven between Montreal and Pittsburgh will decide that exciting series while Boston looks to do away with Philly in their game six. The Flyers, on the other hand, are trying to continue their comeback bid after falling into a 3-0 hole to the Bruins.
Personally, I would love to see Philadelphia extend the series…if for no other reason than to simply provide another evening of playoff action for our viewing pleasure.
Wolves Eliminated in Overtime of Game Seven
The Chicago Wolves we not able to match what the NHL team in Chicago did Tuesday night, losing in overtime 6-5 to the Texas Stars. This despite holding leads of 2-0, 4-2 and 5-4.
Spencer Machacek scored twice and Jason Krog, Brett Sterling and Tim Stapleton each added a goal for the Wolves. Sterling also added an assist on Krog’s goal, which put Chicago up by a goal with 10:15 remaining in the third.
Drew MacIntyre allowed an unassisted goal to Jamie Benn 4:57 into the overtime period after the Stars’ forward won the puck on the boards and snapped off a wrister that ended the season for the Thrashers’ AHL affiliate.
Texas will now advance to the AHL Western Conference Finals against the Hamilton Bulldogs.