Blackhawks

How Blackhawks, Wild stack up compared to previous years

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How Blackhawks, Wild stack up compared to previous years

The Blackhawks and Wild will clash in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the third consecutive season, and both teams will quickly find out this year's matchup won't be like the previous two.

In 2013, Chicago rolled past an inexperienced Minnesota team in five first-round games. Last season, it took six games in the second round before the Blackhawks eventually eliminated the Wild, who lacked the depth to dethrone the reigning Stanley Cup champions.

"We really didn't have much of a chance against them a couple years ago, to be honest," Zach Parise said.

[MORE: Bovada: Where Blackhawks rank among Stanley Cup favorites]

They do now.

Experienced and deep, the Wild don't just feel they'll be able to keep up with the Blackhawks. They're confident they can get past them.

Let's take a look at how the two teams stack up in 2015 compared to 2013 and 2014.

2013 GD GF/G GA/G 5-on-5 PP PK SF/G SA/G
Hawks (36-7-5, 77 points) 1st (+53) 3rd (3.10) 1st (2.02) 1st (1.52) 19th (16.7%) 3rd (87.2%) 5th (31.1) 4th (26.2)
Wild (26-19-3, 55 points) 18th (-5) 22nd (2.46) 15th (2.60) 24th (0.88) 16th (17.9%) 18th (80.7%) 17th (28.8) 6th (27.1)

*Chicago won series 4-1 in first round

2014 GD GF/G GA/G 5-on-5 PP PK SF/G SA/G
Hawks (46-21-15, 107 points) 5th (+47) 2nd (3.18) 12th (2.58) 4th (1.27)  10th (19.5%) 19th (81.4%) 3rd (33.1) 4th (27.2)
Wild (43-27-12, 98 points) 15th (+1) 24th (2.43) 7th (2.42) 8th (1.15)  16th (17.9%) 27th (78.8%) 29th (26.6) 5th (27.7)

*Chicago won series 4-2 in second round

 2015  GD  GF/G  GA/G  5-on-5  PP  PK SF/G   SA/G
 Hawks (48-28-6, 102 points)  4th (+40)  17th (2.68)  2nd (2.27)  4th (1.19)   20th (17.6%)  10th (83.4%)  1st (33.9)  22nd (30.2)
 Wild (46-28-8, 100 points)  7th (+30)  12th (2.77)  6th (2.42)  9th (1.14)   27th (15.8%)  1st (86.3%)  12th (30.8)  4th (27.6)

*Series begins Friday, May 1 at 8:30 p.m. at the United Center

The case for Chicago

The Blackhawks finished the campaign as one of the best puck-possession teams, ranking inside the top-5 in even strength play and first in shots on goal. Combine that with a team that knows what it takes to win in April-June, and Chicago remains the favorite to not only knock off the Wild, but come out of the West.

The case against Chicago

While the Blackhawks' shots on goal have increased every year since 2013, so has their shots allowed. And it did so dramatically from 2014 to 2015, which resulted in a penalty kill that descended to 10th by season's end after ranking first for the majority of the year. It got them into trouble in their first-round matchup against Nashville, which outshot Chicago by an average of 4 per game, but the Blackhawks' experience at closing games prevailed. It may not against Minnesota.

The case for Minnesota

The statistic that jumps out is the Wild's significant improvement on defense since 2013, particularly the penalty kill. They've always hovered near the top of the league in least amount of goals allowed and shots allowed under Mike Yeo, but the in-season acquisition of Devan Dubnyk in addition to a shored up blue line may cause headaches for the Blackhawks.

The case against Minnesota

The other part of the Wild's special teams is their biggest concern. After sitting in the middle of the pack (16th) in 2013 and 2014, their power play slipped near the bottom (27th) in 2015. Minnesota had success in its first-round series against St. Louis, going 4-for-12 on the man advantage, but can they get by Chicago if it dries up?

Report: Where could the NHL potentially finish the 2019-20 season?

Report: Where could the NHL potentially finish the 2019-20 season?

Sunday night, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported the NHL and NHLPA have begun tossing around ideas for where the league could finish potential regular season or playoff games, if the COVID-19 pause were lifted.

The NHL pause went into effect on March 12 due to concerns with the coronavirus pandemic.

Friedman reported one location discussed was North Dakota. 

"Several sites would be necessary, but Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D., makes sense," he wrote. "Host of the 2005 World Junior Championships, the 2016 World Under-18s and the NCAA’s Fighting Hawks, it is an impressive facility that is definitely more suitable than many other available non-NHL options in the United States."

The NHL and NHLPA are expected to discuss other locations this week per Friedman. 

"The league and players must agree on any return-to-play scenarios," he added. "The players are very concerned about the potential of 35 per cent escrow on future paycheques, and whether or not the NHL will consider allowing that to be paid over multiple years. (CBA discussions are believed to be taking place.)"

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device. 

How COVID-19 crisis could impact Blackhawks, NHL's salary cap

How COVID-19 crisis could impact Blackhawks, NHL's salary cap

On March 4, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told general managers that the projected salary cap for the 2020-21 season is expected to be in the range of $84 million and $88.2 million. That's roughly a $2.5 million to $6.7 million increase after it went up only $2 million last season.

But eight days later, the NHL put its season on pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it's unclear if or when hockey will even resume at this point. Because of the uncertainty and the risk of the league potentially losing $1 billion in hockey-related revenue, there's legitimate concern about what the ceiling could look like after we get through this, and not just for next season.

Could the NHL's salary cap stay the same? Might it even go down to help ease the escrow pain for players? Anything is possible, but it would require both the NHL and NHLPA to come to an agreement on what that artificial number could look like.

If the salary cap remains flat, the Blackhawks would be one of the many teams that would find themselves in an extremely tough position. And they better start preparing for that scenario.

As of right now, the Blackhawks' projected cap hit for next season is $74.1 million, according to Cap Friendly. That number factors in the three players on long-term injured reserve (Calvin de Haan, Brent Seabrook and Andrew Shaw) but also includes the current players on the roster, which comes out to 26 total, so cuts obviously must be made to get down to the maximum of 23.

But what that number doesn't include is the potential performance bonus overages and the fact the Blackhawks don't have a goaltender signed beyond this season other than Collin Delia, which doesn't leave much room for free agent signings elsewhere. Heck, taking care of their own guys is going to be a major challenge.

The Blackhawks have nine pending restricted free agents, which most notably includes Drake Caggiula, Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome. Corey Crawford is their highest-profile unrestricted free agent. Those are four key pieces the Blackhawks must try to squeeze in under the cap if the priority is to bring all of them back, and — loosely projecting — gives them around $9-10 million to do so.

You have to wonder if it makes more sense for everyone involved to agree on one-year deals and revisit things the following year after more clarity is provided on the NHL's financial situation, especially with Seattle preparing for league entry and the U.S. television deal set to expire after the 2021-22 season.

For now, the Blackhawks and the rest of the NHL are waiting to see what the next steps are. But the financial ramifications will be significant, and it's something every team must now navigate through. 

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.