On Saturday night the Chicago Blackhawks got their first-round opponent. Tonight, the dates are set.
The Blackhawks will host the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday and Friday night at the United Center before playing Games 3 and 4 next Sunday and May 7 in St. Paul, Minn. Game 1 is a 7 p.m. Central start while Game 2 is scheduled for a 8:30 p.m. start. Game 3 in Minnesota is next Sunday at 2 p.m.; Game 4 is Tuesday at 8:30 p.m.
For the if-necessary contests, Game 5 will be in Chicago on May 9, Game 6 in Minnesota on May 11 and Game 7 on May 12 in Chicago. Times for those are yet to be determined.
For the first time in three postseasons, the Blackhawks will have home-ice advantage. As the Blackhawks went on their 24-game unbeaten streak to start the season, and no matter what they did after that, getting home ice was a big focal point.
Now they’ll deal with a Minnesota Wild team that’s making its first playoff appearance since 2008. The Wild had a trying April, and needed to win its final regular-season game to ensure that No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. But the Blackhawks know they’ve got the target on their backs, and that’s fine with them.
“Well, somebody’s got to be it,” coach Joel Quenneville said recently. “We don’t mind having home ice, playing at the UC. It’s a special place. The crowd’s been unbelievably supportive. We know opponents will be ready to compete and we have to be ready, no matter what the situation.”
In a way, the Blackhawks have something to prove, too. Sure, they had a regular season other teams would love to have. But they’re coming off two brief postseason stints, both coming after major personnel overhauls following that Stanley Cup victory in 2010. They were especially frustrated last season when the Phoenix Coyotes sent them packing in the first round. Patrick Kane has said several times that last year’s team felt it could’ve gone much further.
Now a cohesive group that’s been together for two seasons, the Blackhawks want to show this regular season was just the start of bigger things.
“I would’ve been ice to get out of the first round both years, but each season we got better,” Kane said recently. “We came into (this season) the same team that wanted to prove something, with just a couple little changes. But everyone wants to prove the team we had last year could do something special, and management sowed that faith in us.”
* If necessary
|Game 1||Blackhawks vs. Wild||Tuesday 4/30||7:00 p.m.||CSN-HD|
|Game 2||Blackhawks vs. Wild||Friday 5/3||8:30 p.m.||CSN-HD|
|Game 3||Blackhawks at Wild||Sunday 5/5||2:00 p.m.||NBC|
|Game 4||Blackhawks at Wild||Tuesday 5/7||8:30 p.m.||CSN-HD|
|Game 5*||Blackhawks vs. Wild||Thursday 5/9||TBA||TBA|
|Game 6*||Blackhawks at Wild||Saturday 5/11||TBA||TBA|
|Game 7*||Blackhawks vs. Wild||Sunday 5/12||TBA||TBA|