The Blackhawks are kicking off their playoff campaign tonight against the Minnesota Wild. Catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet, beginning with Blackhawks Pregame Live at 6:30.
The Blackhawks' entire season has led to this. Tonight, the Presidents' Trophy winners will take the ice and kick off the second part of their journey toward their ultimate goal of winning the Stanley Cup, and they'll do so against a Minnesota Wild team that's already embraced the role of the underdog.
"We have a lot of work to do tomorrow, let's just put it that way," Wild coach Mike Yeo told Minnesota reporters over the weekend about his team's preparations for facing the Blackhawks. "The one thing I will say is, I think we shift to a bit of an underdog role...so that will change the mentality a little bit. But as far as we're concerned, we believe we're capable."
As we've all seen in the past, the playoffs are a whole other game, and despite a team's records -- as we saw last year with the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Kings going on to win the Stanley Cup -- the ability to advance is readily available for all teams. The Blackhawks know they have a lot to prove throughout this series.
“You look at the season we had and the success: the expectations are in place, whether they’re from our fans, our organization or from one another," Joel Quenneville told the media following Monday's shootaround. "It’s a healthy situation, and I think we should be going into these playoffs knowing anything can happen and be very respectful of our opponent. It’s a dangerous team. But I’ll be concentrating on what we have to do. We should all be motivated to continue on with what we’ve accomplished this season.”
Top point scorers
Blackhawks: Patrick Kane (23 goals, 32 assists), Jonathan Toews (23 goals, 25 assists), Marian Hossa (17 goals, 14 assists)
Wild: Zach Parise (18 goals, 20 assists), Mikko Koivu (11 goals, 26 assists), Ryan Suter (four goals, 28 assists)
Blackhawks: Corey Crawford will get the start and will be backed up by Henrik Karlsson as Ray Emery continues to recuperate from a lower-body injury. Crawford's recorded a 1.94 goals-against average and .926 save percentage this season. In the two matchups he played against the Wild this season, he's earned a 1-0-1 record and .896 save percentage.
Wild: Niklas Backstrom will be in net and will be backed up by Josh Harding. According to Star Tribune beat reporter Michael Russo, Darcy Kuemper will likely be recalled in case Backstrom sustains an injury. Backstrom's earned a 1-2-0 record and .934 save percentage against the Chicago this season.
Blackhawks: This team has felt they've had something to prove since being knocked out of the playoffs during Round 1 since winning the Stanley Cup in 2010. During the season prior to winning it all, the Blackhawks were knocked out of the Western Conference Final by the Detroit Red Wings.
Wild: This postseason start marks the first time this team has seen any action in the playoffs since 2008.
As Game 1 kicks off here's a look at the Blackhawks' remaining games this series.
Join the conversation during tonight's matchup by using #HawksTalk on Twitter, and keep up with the latest team-related social media trends with Blackhawks Pulse.