The Wild played against the Blackhawks 5 times this year. Our record against the defending champs was: 3-1-1. That's the good news: we beat them in regulation three games of the five, lost in regulation in one of the five, and lost in shootout in one.
Here are a few other statistics the Wild garnered in their games against Chicago:
Things that make me feel good:
There are a few decent performances there: the games on 10/28, 12/5, and 4/3 in particular have at least decent possession numbers. It's also nice that our FF% are higher (for the most part) than our CF%. We are getting a slightly higher percentage of unblocked shots than all shots overall. Our averages are not impressive, but nor are they completely dismal.
Things that make me feel bad:
Yikes.... remember the games that we had decent numbers? we lost 2 out of the 3 (granted, one in the shootout). Somehow, we managed to win 2 games with lower CF% than Avs this postseason. Our chances of winning games with these possession numbers is not good.
While they do not have a direct effect on possession numbers, I still think it's relevant at least to remember that only one goalie has only seen the Hawks twice this regular season: The games on 10/26 and 10/28 were Backstrom, 12/5 was Harding, 1/23 was Kuemper, and 4/3 was Bryzgalov. I don't know if this will have any effect, but it can only help the Wild that the Hawks have only played our goalie once at most.
All this said: I still think the Wild are a different team now. They no longer lack confidence, and they know that they can play with some of the best teams in the league: just look at their schedule at the end of the season. The old cliche is that "the playoffs are a new season," and in this case, I think it holds true. If we're lucky, the Wild catch the Hawks off guard and can keep rolling. I (despite being a lifelong Minnesota fan) have a good feeling about this match-up. We've played well against the Hawks this season, and we've only gotten better since early April when we last met.
Either way, here's hoping for a fun, competitive, and generally great season.
All statistics are 5v5 via www.extraskater.com