Thanks to a combination of a Los Angeles Kings victory and an overtime win for Detroit at Chicago, the Nashville Predators finished 7th in the Western Conference standings, and will meet the Blackhawks as the #2 seed in the opening round of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The matchup is the first between the two Central Division rivals. The Preds went 2-4 against Chicago this season, but the two teams have not played each other since December 27.
So what do you think, folks? We'll have a full breakdown of this series in the coming days, so check out Second City Hockey (SB Nation's Chicago Blackhawks blog), but in the meantime I'll toss out a few ideas to get you started:
- Key matchup: David Legwand vs. Jonathan Toews
- This series will feature a rare set of Finnish goaltenders - Pekka Rinne is playing well enough to steal any given game for the Preds, while Antti Niemi has apparently usurped the highly-paid Cristobal Huet in the Chicago net.
- The fact that the Blackhawks are expected to be without Brian Campbell and Kim Johnsson presents a huge opportunity for the Predators. They'll need to get aggressive on the forecheck and put pressure on other defensemen who will be asked to carry the puck up-ice.