The Chicago Blackhawks are now 14-0 in Games 5 and 6 in series that were tied 2-2 after four games since 2009, but their most recent series victory over the Minnesota Wild may well have been the least impressive of the bunch.
Chicago is a puck possession team but was thoroughly dominated in that respect each and every time they went on the road for a game in St. Paul. That was no different in Game 6, where Minnesota had a decided edge in corsi for percentage with 56.7 to Chicago’s 43.3. The Blackhawks were brutally outplayed in regulation, especially during the second period.
The team relied on Corey Crawford to be brilliant — which he was — far more often than it typically needs to. Duncan Keith had a very difficult series, turning the puck over constantly and creating almost as many offensive opportunities for the Wild as he prevented.
The Blackhawks will play either the Los Angeles Kings or the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference Finals. Both teams are better than Minnesota, and the Kings especially would present a stiff challenge as one of the NHL‘s best puck possession teams.
A return to the lineup for Andrew Shaw would be extremely welcome. Keith and a slew of other players who disappointed against the Wild will also need to step up. A second straight trip to the Stanley Cup Final will not come easily for Chicago.