Experienced Blackhawks ready to take on the Blues

Photo Credit: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Playoff hockey is officially back on the West Side of Chicago, and the Blackhawks are ready for another long playoff run, with the intentions of winning back-to-back Stanley Cups for the first time in team history.

Chicago is finally healthy, having key players Marian Hossa, Marcus Kruger, Andrew Shaw and Corey Crawford back. But one question mark that has come up was whether or not Andrew Ladd is going to play in Game 1, because of his wife going into labor. But according to Pat Boyle of Comcast Sportsnet, sources have told him that Ladd will make it to St. Louis in time for Game 1.

With that being said, an experienced Blackhawks team, with the mindset of winning back-to-back Stanley Cups and four Stanley Cups in seven years, face off against their Central Division rivals St. Louis Blues.

These two teams are familiar with each other, facing off multiple times during each regular season – and two years ago these two teams faced off against each other in the first round of the playoffs, similar to this year.

Back in 2013-14, it was the Blackhawks sixth consecutive year making the playoffs, winning two Stanley Cup championships in the span of five years. As for the Blues, the 2013-14 season was their third consecutive season making the playoffs, managing to only get to the semifinals once in the span of three years.

In 2013-14, Chicago took care of the St. Louis Blues in six games, winning the series 4-2. The year after the Blues lost again in the first round but to the Minnesota Wild, again in six games.

Looking back at prior history over the last eight years, the Blackhawks have been the better team over that span than the St. Louis Blues. Chicago has won three Stanley Cup championship in six years, and when you look at the Blues, they cannot seem to get over the hump of getting past the first round. Only once in the last eight years they have gotten to the Western Conference Semifinals, when they lost to the Los Angeles Kings in 2011-12.

One could argue that St. Louis was better than Chicago this year based on their team records, which is true. According to NHL.com, St. Louis finished the season 49-24-9, 107 points, and Chicago finished the year 47-26-9, 103 points – which is why the Blues have home-ice advantage against the Blackhawks.

But when you look at the Blackhawks roster, they have such a deep team. Patrick Kane had his best season as a professional, Artemi Panarin had a sensational rookie campaign, Corey Crawford had a career-high seven shutouts and not to mention they traded for Andrew Ladd, a veteran player who can score the puck.

With all that being said, how can you not pick the Blackhawks to win this series with that deep roster.

Yes, they will be without Duncan Keith for Game 1 because of the continuation of his suspension when he swung his stick at Charlie Coyle of the Minnesota Wild, but the Blackhawks still have great defenseman on their team to step up in his absence.

Just like in 2013-14, I predict that the Blackhawks will beat the St. Louis Blues in six games.

St. Louis has a lot of talent on their team, players like Vladimir Tarasenko, David Backes and Paul Stastny, but they have had disappointing letdowns in the playoffs the last two seasons.

The fact that Chicago has the experience of winning in the playoffs, and making deep runs in the postseason, is the reason why I believe the Blackhawks will win in six games against the Blues.

No matter what the outcome is, this will be a fun and physical series to watch because these two teams do not like each other. Puck drops at 8:30 PM tonight in St. Louis at the Scottrade Center.

Here is the full schedule of the series:

Game 1 – Chicago @ St. Louis – Wednesday, April 13th – 8:30 PM

Game 2 – Chicago @St. Louis – Friday, April 15th – 7:00 PM

Game 3 – St. Louis @ Chicago – Sunday, April 17th – 2:00 PM

Game 4 – St. Louis @ Chicago – Tuesday, April 19th – 8:30 PM

Game 5 – Chicago @ St. Louis – Thursday, April 21st – TBD

Game 6 – St. Louis @ Chicago – Saturday, April 23rd – TBD

Game 7 – Chicago @ St. Louis – Monday, April 25th – TBD