The Blackhawks clinch the 8th playoff spot by the hair of their chinny chin chins.

I was on the ice when I heard the news. Somehow, without the help of Havlat and Madden, the Wild as icehogst put it, "skated their butts off," and took it to a Dallas team who had to want it more. With that, the Hawks "clinch" the eighth seed. When I heard the news I couldn't help but feel a bit melancholy. I was relieved, but also felt like they didn't deserve it. 97 points should be enough to clinch, and when one game can place you in 5th or 9th there has to be some consolation on the matter. Its just, I guess I am still not satisfied with what I saw yesterday. But, they are in and that is all that matters now.

Physical play, and a tired top line played a huge role in the outcome of the last game. When the game was theirs to take back in the final minutes, no player on the ice had any gas left. Maybe a bad move by Q to rely so heavily on the top line, or maybe it was the right move and just didn't work out. Doesn't matter now I guess.
Going along with fourfeather I felt it was a good game, and it could have gone either way too, but I also saw the Hawks give it away when they needed it more. When coupled with the rest of the season, that just isn't good enough for me. Maybe they can dig deeper in the post season and find the kind of consistency and high gear play that we know is in them. If they don't then I fear a short run.
Vancouver huh, Vancouver, Vancouver, Vancouver. Are you ready to be disappointed again? Are you ready to watch your big goaltender crack again? Let the scoring race begin. The Hawks have been playing games with the season on the line for weeks now, and Vancouver has been just coasting. My gut tells me that this, paired with the psychological hold that Chicago has on Vancouver will spell disaster if you are a Nucks fan. How brutal will it be to watch the President's Trophy winners go down in the first round?
Thats right. If I was a betting man, since we are talking so much about betting. I would put money on the Hawks making it to the second round. Again, my gut tells me that Keith is finally ready to wake up, and that Kane is starting to play his best hockey of the season. That hangover might finally be wearing off. It tells me that Toews has more than the Sedins and that a healthy Bolland will destroy all things good for Vancouver. I think that Luongo will choke and that Crawford will be steady, and that Hossa will produce for the first time in the playoffs.
Anyways, without further ramblings, here are my picks for the first round. A more complete bracket will follow in the coming days.
Nucks v Hawks -  I am obviously going with the Hawks.
Sharks v Kings -  Duh, Sharks. In 5 or possibly a sweep.
Wings v Yotes -  A short series with the Wings ending on top.
Ducks v Nashville -  I think Oneteam set this one up perfectly. Nashville wins it and I think they have it in them to win the West. Everyone fears playing this team.
EAST
Caps v Rangers -  A hard fought series, but I am going with the Rangers, however unlikely that the Caps blow it again.
Flyers v Sabres -  Flyers in 4 or 5.
Bruins v Habs -  A 7 game series that will have everyone on their toes. Im going with Boston.
Pens v Bolts -   The defensive play of Tampa will win in the end.

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  • For a little "Vig", a taste if you will, I could be persuaded to place bets for our happy readers here. Just kidding. I have mixed feelings as well. From early on this season, I wanted to see them win of course, but what I also wanted to see was a reworking of this team that would leave them competitive for years to come. Only time will tell if they are ready for next year. For this year, the highs have been very high and the lows very low. The could get swept, or they could repeat the cup. You just can't say.

  • I dunno HH, clinch is too strong a word for what happened yesterday, graciously accept the gift, is more apt in this story.

    As you know, I've been warning against feeling too upbeat regarding this match up. Having seen probably 60 of the 'nucks games this year, I need to say that this is a different team than what the 'hawks saw last year. Weakest division you say, no way. This team has been on a roll ever since the 'hawks waxed them back in November, with the exception of a few minor hiccups along the way. Luongo has changed his game and they now have a bona-fide back-up should he falter. The team reminds me of the 'hawks last year

  • In reply to fourfeather:

    If there ever was a set-up for an upset, it is Hawks Nucks. I think the Flyers going down is the more unlikely outcome. Bolland getting healthy is a must though.

    Also, I don't think the Preds are going down, maybe never. They might just win the Conference, but my pick to win it all is the Sharks. Has been since day 1.

  • In reply to fourfeather:

    From perusing the Vancouver newspapers:

    Bulletin board material courtesy of former Nuck Ryan Johnson. Lengthy quote on fear Nucks feel now that Hawks are their opponent summarized as "I'm sure they were hoping there wasn't a plane leaving Chicago for Vancouver".

    Within an article entitled Know Your Enemy, Fralik's game was described as "that of a headless chicken". This beauty is actually by a Chicago media type.

    That Nucks are relieved not to have Buff's "big ass" in luongo's crease nor Dave "the rat" Bolland hanging all over the Sendins. In fact it is clear these two so got in Nuck heads last year that the Nuck nation probably needed civic therapy.

    However, team quotes respectfully credit the Cup Champs as a dangerous opponent.

  • I love the fact that the pressure is really all on the Nucks now. If the Nucks win, it's expected -- but if they lose, it's the biggest choke in franchise history. Imagine what the Canadian media will be saying if the Hawks manage to win the first game in Vancouver. Last year the shoe was totally on the other foot. As a Hawk fan, I dreaded the playoff pressure after such a great regular season. You can bet the Nucks fans are feeling pretty sick about the choke possibility right now as well.

    By the way, Scott Burnside predicts the Hawks in 7. If Bolland can get back in the line-up, I like their chances a whole lot better.

    I agree with FF above that the Sabres could be the true dark horse in this post-season. A good friend of mine is a big Sabres fan, so I've kept up with them a bit this year. They're a dangerous team that has peaked at the right time. And if Miller can get/stay healthy, they have a world-class goalie to boot. Most people forget they came back strong after a horrendous start to the season (something like 3-10-1 in the first month)...

  • The view from the lodge:

    Nucks in 5
    Preds in 6
    Wings in 5
    Sharks in 6

    Habs in 7
    Sabres in 7
    Bolts in 6
    Caps in 5

    Sorry my fellow Hawks fans but I just don't see them going very far this year.

    BW

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