If there is a prevailing cliche to take from the Chicago Blackhawks’ 3-2 shootout win against the Detroit Red Wings, it’s probably “be careful what you wish for.” Detroit fought its way to OT to clinch a first round series against the Nashville Predators (dubious), which enables sixth seed Chicago to get what some what believe is a favorable matchup – relatively speaking – against whichever team wins the Pacific Division.
That’s still up for grabs, yet that really is the question: should Chicago be that happy to face a team that’s probably not the “third” best team in the West? Right now the Phoenix Coyotes (95 points, 35 regulation/OT wins) lead seventh-ranked Los Angeles (94, 34 reg/OT) and eighth-ranked San Jose (94, 33 reg/OT) but that could all change tonight. All three squads bring different headaches to the table, but here are Chicago’s season series results against each team:
vs. Phoenix: 1-2-1
vs. Los Angeles: 1-2-1
vs. San Jose: 2-2
Despite being the least likely opponent (by a marginal amount), the Sharks might strike Blackhawks fans as the ideal matchup. Both teams seem to have similar strengths like high-powered offenses and up-and-down goaltending, while there’s the obvious historical element of Chicago sweeping San Jose in the 2010 Western Conference finals. Oh yeah, the Blackhawks would also face their former Stanley Cup-winning goalie Antti Niemi if that happens.
So would that be the ideal matchup for Chicago? If not, who would be? Which team should scare the Blackhawks the most?
Final note: the Blackhawks are like the Red Wings in that they’re pretty weak on the road, too, so this should be a tough series for Chicago under most circumstances.