Key Matchups: Blackhawks Vs. Wild

The Chicago Blackhawks will open the 2013 playoffs with the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night at the UC. Here are a few key matchups to kick off the first round.

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Goaltending: Corey Crawford vs. Niklas Backstrom
Edge: Crawford
Crawford’s numbers may be significantly better than Backstrom’s, but the edge in this category is still narrow. Crawford benefits greatly from his defense, and Backstrom is forced to stand on his head at times, and does it well.
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Forwards: Patrick Kane vs. Zach Parise
Edge: Kane
nIn a battle of talented American snipers, the edge goes to Kane here. Parise may have redefined Minnesota’s style, but Kane is an MVP candidate for a reason and has stepped up his game this season in all areas.
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Defensemen: Duncan Keith vs. Ryan Suter
nEdge: Suter
Keith has looked significantly better than he has the previous two seasons thanks to decreased minutes, but Suter has been otherworldly for the Wild. He had 15 power play points in the shortened season, and led the team with 28 assists.
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Special Teams: Marcus Kruger vs. Mikko Koivu
nEdge: Kruger
The Blackhawks’ penalty killing unit is one of the best in the league, and Kruger’s aggressive style is a big reason why. Koivu may have 13 power play helpers for the Wild, but their 16th ranked power play may be in serious trouble against the Hawks.
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Goaltending: Corey Crawford vs. Niklas Backstrom
Edge: Crawford
Crawford’s numbers may be significantly better than Backstrom’s, but the edge in this category is still narrow. Crawford benefits greatly from his defense, and Backstrom is forced to stand on his head at times, and does it well.
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Coaching: Joel Quenneville vs. Mike Yeo
Edge: Quenneville
Joel has gone from the hot seat to the cat bird seat in Chicago and with good reason. His style optimizes the talent that his team has, and while Yeo is a very capable coach, Quenneville has done the better job implementing his vision for the team
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