Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville was often glued to a nearby TV to find out which West team would take the eighth seed on Saturday, according to the Chicago Tribune. He got his answer soon enough: the top seed Blackhawks will take on the big-money Minnesota Wild.
Minnesota faced a scare for the eighth spot from the Columbus Blue Jackets, but the Wild got the job done tonight thanks in part to hard work from key free agent acquisitions Ryan Suter and Zach Parise. They’ll need continued strong work from that dynamic duo if the Wild hope to upset the Blackhawks.
Patrick Kane didn’t seem to put too much weight in Chicago’s 2-0-1 regular season mark against Minnesota. He told the Chicago Tribune that the Wild aren’t a team to be taken lightly.
“When they play like they want to, they can score four or five goals a night and keep it out of their net with maybe one of the best defensemen in the league (in Ryan Suter),” Kane said. “It’s a dangerous team. You definitely have to be careful with them. They’re a team that I’ve watched throughout the year and it seems like one night they look like the best team in the NHL and the next night they look like they don’t even want to be out there.”
The Blackhawks haven’t faced a Minnesota team in the playoffs since they lost a 4-2 series to the North Stars in 1991, but with long-term deals for Parise and Suter, this could very well be the beginning of a new rivalry.