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Blackhawks kick Predators out of playoffs

Apr 26, 2010, 11:45 PM EDT

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nieminash.jpgIf anyone deserved to score a goal for the Chicago Blackhawks, it was John Madden. His empty netter was his first goal (and point) of a series despite the fact that he played some great hockey.

Chicago Blackhawks 5, Nashville Predators 3

Blackhawks win series 4-2

Both the Eastern and Western Conferences will wait for a Game 7 each (Red Wings-Coyotes Tuesday, Canadiens-Capitals Wednesday). Aside from that, it will be the Penguins, Bruins and Flyers in the East and the Sharks, Blackhawks and Canucks in the West.

This sets up what could very well be an epic series between the Blackhawks and Canucks, two teams who developed some serious hatred for each other during the last two seasons. While Chicago handed Vancouver a resounding defeat last year, it seems like things have changed for both teams. The Canucks were the West’s leading goal scoring team and Roberto Luongo must be feeling very confident after a fantastic performance against the Kings last night. The Blackhawks had an up-and-down series, but Antti Niemi was often excellent in net. Still, the Canucks’ offensive firepower is an atom bomb to the Predators’ fire cracker arsenal, so we’ll see if Finnish netminder Niemi is for real soon enough.

Nashville cannot help but ask what could have been. Night after night, their anemic powerplay let the team down. It’s harder to put lipstick on this pig because the Predators aren’t a team that can make big free agent splashes (if they were more capable, I’d strongly recommend adding Gonchar to bolster their tepid man advantage). As hard as it is to be positive about a franchise that has never made it past the first round, you still have to give it to Barry Trotz and company for even making it this far year after year. The question is: will the team fork over some money to try to do some damage?

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