LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 03: Patrick Sharp #10 of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrates a goal by teammate Patrick Kane #88 in the first period against the Los Angeles Kings during the NHL game at Staples Center on February 3, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
The Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues are going to be facing off in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs later this week, and with the long and storied rivalry the two teams share, it’s no surprise that national TV networks are wanting a piece of the action.
That’s why it isn’t surprising to hear that the two teams will do battle on Saturday afternoon on NBC Chicago. The puck will drop just after 2 p.m. Central time, and the game will be the second in their best-of-seven first round series.
The full schedule, which will be released later this week, hasn’t been finalized yet, but all games will air on national television during the postseason. NBCSN will handle the vast majority of games, with NHL Network, CNBC, and NBC all airing games as well. The playoffs begin on Wednesday evening and will continue through the middle of June.
The matchup between the Blues and Blackhawks wouldn't have occurred in previous seasons, as the NHL has adopted a new playoff format this season. Under the new system, each conference dropped to only two divisions instead of three, with the top team in each division facing one of the two wild card teams in the first round. The Anaheim Ducks, winners of the Pacific Division, will tangle with the Dallas Stars in the first round, while the Colorado Avalanche, winners of the Central, will face the Minnesota Wild.
As for the other four playoff spots, the way they are determined as changed as well. The second and third seeded teams from each division will face each other in round one, with the San Jose Sharks opening at home against the Los Angeles Kings, while the struggling Blues will take on the Blackhawks.