Is the third time the charm or harm for the Blackhawks against the Wild?
CHICAGO – Old time Blackhawks fans will remember how much their neighbors to the far north became a rival in the regular and postseason.
The Minnesota North Stars were a common opponent for the team in the playoffs since they were in the same division and regularly sported strong teams.
Such a regional rivalry disappeared when the North Stars moved to Dallas and dropped the first part of their name. But after two decades, it appears to be back.
For a third-straight year the Blackhawks face a team from Minnesota in the playoffs and like 2014 it will be again in the second round. The Wild knocked St. Louis out of the playoffs in six games to earn another crack at what’s becoming a nemesis in Chicago.
In two previous playoff series Joel Quenneville’s team knocked Minnesota out of the playoffs, doing so in five games in 2013 and then six last year.
So is third time the charm or the harm?
"It's the past," said Blackhawks right wing Bryan Bickell when asked if its easier or harder to face a team in the playoffs you've knocked out in succession. "It's a new series, it's a new game. There's track records the last couple of years where there have been good series and we expect this series to be just as good."
The regular season was as the team's split their two match-ups-the Blackhawks winning the first two with the Wild capturing the last. Yet Andrew Shaw believes that those meetings won't be much on the mind of a Minnesota team that is finally hoping for a playoff breakthrough.
"They're probably pretty bitter about that," said the Blackhawks' center of the Wild. "They're going to come out and have that little extra edge wanting to beat us. They're a good team. They gave us a run in both series."
Should they do that this year goaltender Devan Dubnyk figures to the lead the way. He came up with pair of 30-plus save games and allowed just two goals in dominant Game 5 and 6 wins over St. Louis to advance to the second round.
Left wing Zach Parise also enjoyed a strong series against the Blues scoring three goals and assisting on four others. Those players along with a Wild team playing it's best hockey in the postseason means a "Three-Peat" against Minnesota will present a major challenge.
"I feel like they're getting better and better in a lot of ways every year," said captain Jonathan Toews. "So I think they'll bet the toughest test we've seen in a long time."
As they continue a rivalry from one franchise to another.