Dec 14, 2011; St. Paul, MN, USA; Chicago Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews (19) carries the puck past Minnesota Wild defenseman Mike Lundin (2) during the third period at the Xcel Energy Center. The Blackhawks defeated the Wild 4-3 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Western Conference Quarterfinals Start Tonight

The wait is over! The chase for the Stanley Cup officially starts tonight, as the Western Conference kicks off their Quarterfinals.

First up, you will see the Number 1 seeded Chicago Blackhawks take on the Number 8 seed Minnesota Wild at the United Center in Chicago at 8 p.m. EST.

The Blackhawks had a spectacular season, basically demolishing the rest of the Western Conference this season with their 36-7-5 record in this 48 game season. In fact, the Hawks lead their nearest competition, the Anaheim Ducks, by 11 points.

Furthering my assertion of their dominance, they came in 2nd in the entire league for goals scored this season with 149 goals, only to be topped by Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins who came in at 162.. Just behind them with 147 was Steven Stamkos and our very own Tampa Bay Lightning.

During pre-game warm-ups tonight, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews told Pierre McGuire what he was feeling coming into the series against the Wild.

We understand what it is to play a solid team game, and I think that’s going to serve us well in the series.”

On the other hand, you have the Minnesota Wild. For a while there, the Wild were leading their division; however, almost inexplicably they started to take a dive, barely getting into the playoffs on the last day of the regular season.

Don’t get me wrong, though. The Wild are par for the course with their 26-9-3 record this season; especially in a conference with such solid competition. Alternate captain Zach Parise lead the team this season with 18 goals and 20 assists for 38 points to go along with his plus-2 rating.

 

Also up tonight, you have the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings taking on the Number 4 seeded St. Louis Blues at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis at 8 p.m. EST.

Mar 28, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues right wing Chris Stewart (25) knocks the puck away from Los Angeles Kings center Trevor Lewis (22) during the first period at the Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

The Kings swept their series against the St. Louis Blues this year. By the numbers, the Blues were outshot 92-58 and outscored 14-7 by the by the Kings.

The Kings alternate captain Anze Kopitar lead the team this season with 10 goals and 32 assists for a total of 42 points along with a plus-14 rating.

The Blues right wing Chris Stewart led the Blues with 18 goals and 18 assists for a season total of 36 points.

As far as fire power is concerned, they are fairly evenly matched. However, when it comes to putting it all together against each other this season, the Kings have the decided edge.

 

The final game of the night is the Number 2 seed Anaheim Ducks taking on the Number 7 seed Detroit Red Wings at the Honda Center in Anaheim at 10:30 p.m. EST.

The Red Wings won the season series against the Ducks this season, taking 2-1-0. Taking a look at the numbers, they are pretty evenly matched in regards to goals scored. The Red Wings inched out the Ducks 9-7 in goals. However, when it comes to shots on goal, the Ducks were able to simply out fire the Red Wings 105-72.

Mar 24, 2013; Anaheim, CA, USA; Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk (13) handles the puck as Anaheim Ducks players Andrew Cogliano (7) , Saku Koivu (11) and Cam Fowler (4) defend at the Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

As we mentioned before, the Anaheim Ducks were the closest competition that the Chicago Blackhawks had for the Number 1 seed, finishing the season 30-12-6 for 66 points. The Red Wings found themselves nudged comfortably between the San Jose Sharks and the Minnesota Wild, all separated by 1 point a piece.

Alternate captain Pavel Datsyuk leads the Red Wings with 15 goals and 34 assists for a total of 49 points to go with his plus-21 rating. However, not to be outdone by much, Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg is right behind him with 11 goals and 37 assists for 48 points along with a plus-2 rating.

On the other side of the ice, Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf lead his team this season with 15 goals and 34 assists for a total of along with a plus-14 rating. Behind him is right wing Corey Perry who put up 15 goals and 21 assists for a 36 points total, and a plus-10 rating.

These two teams are almost on an even keel. However, the Ducks offensive-minded nature, and ability to put Shots on Goal may have an impact on the outcome of this series.

 

Many different outcomes that could come out of tonight’s exciting opening night of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Who do you think will come out ahead tonight? Will the Hawks dominate the Wild, or will Minnesota go puck wild and overtake the Hawks? How about the defending champion L.A. Kings? Do they have what it takes to sail past the Blues? Will the Red Wings continue their season trend and pluck the ducks, or are we in for a surprise at the hands of players like Getzlaf and Perry?

There are so many questions that need answers as we start the chase for the Cup tonight. Now it is time for you to let us know what you think. Sound off in the comments below and let us know who you think will come up on top, and who you think will fall flat.

 

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Tags: 2013 Western Conference Finals

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