The Minnesota Wild are officially tamed.
Marian Hossa scored twice and Marcus Kruger, Patrick Sharp, and and Andrew Shaw once each as the Warriors of the Four Feathers beat Minnesota 5-1 at the United Center last night, ousting them from the playoffs.
Corey Crawford continued his spectacular goaltending, and Hawks fans continue to have reason for optimism. But it gets harder from here on out. The Hawks will play either the Detroit Red Wings or the San Jose Sharks next. Both teams are dangerous- though because of the historic rivalry between the teams and also because I think San Jose would be a tougher opponent, I'm hoping it's Detroit.
There are only two teams I'm truly afraid of, though. Anaheim- who I have a hunch we'll end up playing in the Conference Finals- have had the Hawks' number all year. And Pittsburg, of course, is the only other NHL team this season in Chicago's class.
In any case, there's plenty of fun ahead as my Blackhawks gun for their second Stanley Cup in four years. The last time they won a series, btw, they went on to win it all.
Here are some scenes from the UC last night- including the most civilized custom in all of sports: the handshake line, when the players from both teams exchange congratulations after the final buzzer of the deciding game.