Central Division foes Nashville Predators and Chicago Blackhawks find themselves in a first round matchup yet again in the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs. Chicago has had Nashville’s number in the previous two meetings, ultimately going on to win the Stanley Cup both times after defeating the Predators.
With Nashville securing their playoff slot in the closing days of the season, following their typical second half surge, and Chicago feeling comfortable for some time at the top of the Central Division, both teams continued to push for the playoffs knowing that they could very well see each other in the first round. Surprise – it happened.
Three out of the past eight seasons the Nashville Predators have met the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Both times previously the Predators were ousted in six games and the Hawks would go on to win the Stanley Cup Finals.
Besides winning three Cups in the Joel Quenneville-era, Chicago’s presence in the playoffs – especially as their opponent – can make some more than a bit nervous. They’re easily one of, if not the most, playoff-experienced teams in the NHL. In a series with home-ice advantage under Quenneville, they’re 11-1.
The only series loss? The 2014 Western Conference Finals against the soon-to-be Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.
Yet, for all the dominance the Blackhawks have shown in the playoffs, they’re beatable as well.
St. Louis took them out in seven games during the first round just last season. The only other first round exit in recent history came in 2012 against the Arizona Coyotes, where five of the games went to overtime.
It’s not impossible to beat Chicago, even when they’re as dominant of a team as they’ve ever been. But the order? A tall, tall one at that.