First Thoughts On The Series – NBC Chicago


The Chicago Blackhawks took full advantage of their opportunities in Edmonton as they qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs, but now the road gets a lot tougher as they face the Vegas Golden Knights in the quarterfinals of the Western Conference.

The Golden Knights, who had a perfect 3-0 round robin against the West’s other top three teams, are a formidable team with strong goaltenders, a deep and talented group of forwards and a blue line full of ready and capable players. to conduct offensive goods if necessary.

This group of goalkeepers are titled by the two-headed monster Marc-André Fleury and Robin Lehner, who is very familiar to Blackhawks fans, as he played 33 games in Chicago this season before being traded to Golden Knights in February.

Lehner has started two of the three games the Knights have played in the round robin, and while Vegas head coach Pete DeBoer has yet to name a starter for the series, it looks like Lehner will have the track. home to face his former team in the playoffs. start this week.

On the defensive end, the Golden Knights are a team with a lot of depth and talent, but the squad is featured by players who can put the games to the offensive end of the ice. Nate Schmidt and Shea Theodore are two of the Golden Knights’ most productive players offensively, and their ability to stretch the ice and keep the pressure on opposing forwards can cause even the most talented of teams to seize up. try to prepare their attack.

This high level of engagement from the blue liners creates plenty of opportunities for the team’s forward group, and they have one of the deepest forward groups in the league, with players like Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone and William Karlsson all providing the club with plenty of scoring prowess.

The Golden Knights finished outside the league’s top 10 in goals scored per game and goals against per game, but make no mistake: this is a group that can score in clusters and has the ability. to persevere by scoring droughts from their top players, unlike the great Edmonton Oilers team that the Blackhawks just brought down.

In terms of weaknesses, there is one key area to watch for Vegas: their penalty kick. While the Oilers had one of the best penal and killer units in the league this season, the Golden Knights had one of the worst, killing 80.8% of the power plays they faced. In fact, only one team still eligible for playoff competition had a worse penalty kick than the Golden Knights, with the Toronto Maple Leafs still facing a playoff game Sunday against Columbus.

This could be an area where the Blackhawks could potentially do some damage, as they showed power-play prowess in Games 1 and 4 of their series with Edmonton. If Dominik Kubalik and Jonathan Toews can continue their solid game, the man advantage could be a key advantage for a Blackhawks team looking for a big surprise.

That surprise could also be helped by Corey Crawford, as the goaltender played his best game of the playoffs in Friday’s Game 4 win over Edmonton. If Crawford, who is still recovering after missing most of training camp with the coronavirus, manages to regain his form, the Golden Knights could face a tall order as the proven playoff performer could help give to his club a chance to fight in the playoffs.

Ultimately, the Blackhawks face a tough climb against these Golden Knights, who have been one of the NHL’s most notable stories throughout their brief history in the league. The Blackhawks went 1-1-1 against Vegas in the regular season and struggled in their all-time streak against Vegas, going 1-6-2 in nine all-time games.

The NHL is expected to release the first round schedule soon, and the Blackhawks will likely be billed again late at night from the league. You can follow coverage of this announcement, as well as the entire series, right here on the NBC 5 Chicago Hockey page.


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