It's been three long years since the Blackhawks last saw the second round of the playoffs.
A battered and bruised Chicago team took the Canucks to the brink, losing in overtime of game seven on Vancouver ice in 2011. Last season, the Blackhawks took the Coyotes to overtime five consecutive games - and ultimately lost in game six.
The team is better this year: not just talent- and chemistry-wise, but coming off a record, albeit shortened, season. Coach Joel Quenneville has been able to consistently roll four lines without his trademarked "line combination blender"; Corey Crawford and Ray Emery split time in the net so well that they walked away with the William M....
Marian Hossa scored the only goal of the game with 4:46 remaining in the second period and Ray Emery shut the door on the Wild shooters as Chicago captured its 30th win of the year in Minnesota last night.
Emery faced 20 shots to record his 15th win and third shutout of the year. The shutout was also his third in his last five starts, a stretch that has seen him go 4-1-0 with a 1.68 GAA and a 0.951 SV% and has many in the windy city sounding the Goalie Controversy Alarm.
Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom, making his 22nd start in the last 24 games for the Wild, stood on his head for most of the night, turning away all but one of the 31 shots launched by a tenacious...
The Blackhawks took their record to 20-0-3 on Tuesday night, and set a new team record while they were at it: for the first time in 86 years of team history, the Blackhawks have won 10 games in a row.
It was a special night in Chicago to begin with. The team celebrated Marian Hossa's 1,000th career game (played Sunday in Detroit) with a short pre-game ceremony. Hossa was presented with a silver hockey stick to commemorate his achievement as well as a painting of him hoisting the Stanley Cup; chants of "Hos-sa, Hos-sa," rained down from the rafters.
After that, it was time to get down and play hockey.
The Minnesota Wild took to the ice on fire against the Chicago Blackhawks Wednesday night, scoring within 90 seconds of the puck drop. The relentless physical demand brought out the best of both teams, ending in a shootout and a Wild victory 3-2.
The Minnesota Wild haven't qualified for the playoffs since the 2007-08 season; but this year, they already have 41 points and are on pace for 115 points. Who would have foreseen the Minnesota Wild sitting atop the league nearly a third of the way into the season? Who is this new Wild team?
Minnesota began its team overhaul early in the summer, firing coach Todd Richards, and promoting Mike Yeo to head coach from their AHL affiliate, the Houston Aeros. When you look at Yeo's record, it is no surprise that the Wild tagged him as new coach.
MikeYeo, 38, is the youngest coach in the NHL - and is not that far removed from playing hockey himself: he was a member o...