The Blackhawks fired out of the gate with a record-setting 21-0-3 start and finished the 48-game season with a mesmerizing .802 winning percentage. They are deep on the attack. Their defensive corps is solid. And the Ray Emery-Corey Crawford goaltending tandem (each with a ridiculous 1.94 goals-against mark) is the best in the league. A club with no faults to find. Meanwhile, the Wild didn’t edge over the DNQ line until the final weekend, the first time they’ve qualified since 2008. They spent huge money last summer on free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter and both played vital roles in the franchise’s resurgence. However, as is often the case, large spending also meant an overall talent imbalance, especially when it came to goal scoring. Of the 16 teams to qualify for the postseason, only the Wild finished with fewer goals scored (122) than allowed (127). The little chance they have in this series comes down to 35-year-old Niklas Backstrom allowing no more than two goals a night, and even that might not be enough to keep the Hawks from a sweep.
Prediction: Blackhawks in five.