NHL 2010 Playoffs: San Jose Sharks vs. Chicago Blackhawks Preview

Bobby KezneikCorrespondent IMay 12, 2010

CHICAGO - MAY 03: (L-R) Brent Seabrook #7, Duncan Keith #2, Patrick Kane #88, Jonathan Toews #19 and John Madden #11 of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrate a goal against the Vancouver Canucks in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at United Center on May 3, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Canucks 4-2. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The San Jose Sharks defeated the Detroit Red Wings in five games to overcome their long history of 'choking' in the NHL postseason.

The Chicago Blackhawks triumphed over the Vancouver Canucks for the second straight season in the NHL postseason by defeating them in six games.

The results of the Western Conference semi-finals lead to a No. 1 against No. 2 seed in the conference finals. San Jose and Chicago were the two best teams in the west throughout the regular season. Now, they will meet in the cup semi's to once and for all, determine who is the better team. (Or at-least who is the hungrier team).

Season Series:

November 15th, 2009: @ Chicago, 4-3 Chicago (Overtime)                                   

November 25th, 2009: @ San Jose, 7-2 Chicago                                               

January 28th, 2010: @ San Jose, 4-3 Chicago (Overtime)

Chicago wins season series 3-0


Chicago's Advantages:

The Big Three. The Chicago Blackhawks exploded after being embarrassed in game one against the Vancouver Canucks, loosing 5-1. Dustin Byfuglien, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Kane combined for an outstanding 11 goals, 15 assists, and 26 points in the series versus the Vancouver Canucks. Those three players will be crucial in the next round against the San Jose Sharks.

Road Warriors. The Chicago Blackhawks have done an incredible job at winning on the road. All three of the games that were played in Vancouver were all won by the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks scored an exquisite 17 goals over the span of just three games in Vancouver, averaging 5.66 goals per game. They also managed to allow in just five goals on the road in the second round.

Defense Wins Championships. The defensive core of the Chicago Blackhawks have been living up to their name. With the likes of Brian Campell, Brent Seabrook, and Norris Trophy Nominee Duncan Keith, the B-Hawks D'Men are expected to play flawless, and that they did. Since their un-acceptable game one, Chicago has allowed in just 12 goals in the past five games. That is a pretty solid pace to work at.

San Jose's Advantages:

Superstar Depth. Joe Pavelski, Devon Setoguchi, and Ryan Clowe were the three players that stepped up in the first round against the Colorado Avalanche, while Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Dany Heatley, (the expected superstars of the team) took a nice vacation for the most part of the series. However, they certainly weren't joking in round two when Thornton, Heatley, and Marleau all stepped up and held their own giving the Sharks even a bigger advantage with now six players playing at their best (maybe five with the exception of Heatley).

The Shark Tank. The San Jose Sharks have the advantage of starting the series and the first two games on home ice where they have been significantly solid, pursuing an excellent home record of 5-1-0 in the NHL 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The main success has been offense when playing in the 'Shark Tank'. San Jose has scored a successful 27 goals on home ice, averaging 4.50 goals per game when playing on home soil.

A Team On A Mission. Early in the first round of the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, the San San Jose Sharks were granted with an early scare when they lost game one to the Colorado Avalanche, and ended up being down 2-1 in the series. But since then, the Sharks have been 7-1-0, allowing in just 18 goals in that stretch. Despite the talent of the Blackhawks, this really feels like the Sharks are on a roll and have no plans on looking back or even slowing down.


Prediction: San Jose Sharks Win Series In Seven Games