Chicago is firmly in the number one position with 9 games remaining on their schedule. Chicago has a 6 point lead on the second place Wild thanks to the Minnesota Wild’s recent skid (3-7-0 in their last 10). They are looking to head into the playoffs with the top spot in the division. Patrick Kane has been having a Patrick Kane season once again, potting himself 32 goals and 48 apples to put himself in a tie with Brad Marchand for 3rd place in the scoring race. After a lackluster first half of the season, Jonathon Toews has been ripping it up lately, looking like the player the rest of the league has come to fear when the playoffs come around. Chicago is poised to make another cup run and is looking like the team to beat in the west. If the season ended today, Chicago would play Nashville in the first round. Just for kicks take a look at Colorado’s plus minus this season… that team REALLY sucks.
If the season ended today Chicago would play Nashville, and Minnesota would face off against St. Louis. Despite their recent skid, Minnesota has been the far better team than St. Louis. Minnesota’s success has stemmed from their defense, and exceptional goaltending. Devan Dubnyk has been having a career year for the Wild, posting up 37 wins, a .927 Sv%, and a ridiculous 2.17 GAA. Hot goalies win playoff games, and that is exactly what Dubnyk has been for his team this year. Minnesota is also led by defenseman Ryan Suter, who is your league leader in +/- with a +34 rating. Minnesota would have to be my pick in this hypothetical matchup.
On the other side, it would take a monumental effort by Nashville to upset the world, beating Chicago Blackhawks, but in the playoffs anything is possible. On paper Chicago has a huge advantage. The Blackhawks are going to be looking for revenge, and playing with a chip on their shoulder after last years first round loss at the hands of the St. Louis Blues. Someone may put a stop the Hawks Stanley Cup run, but it sure as hell won’t be the Predators. I like Chicago in 5 games in this matchup.