We are lucky enough to be joined today by Keith Schultz of Blackhawk Up, and he was gracious enough to answer a few questions for us.
Bleedin’ Blue: A lot has been made about the injuries to Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews down the stretch. They’ll be good to go for Game One, but do you believe there will be any rink rust on these two?
Keith Schultz: No they will be re-energized though. Toews missed the final 23 games in 2012 and scored on his first shot of the Game in Game #1 of the playoffs so look for a lot of jump in their skates.BB: The Blues are a team that can play a variety of ways, much like the Blackhawks. Do you think we’ll see more of a talent on talent series? Or will this one take a turn for the nasty sooner or later?
KS: This should be a series that shows off the tremendous talent of both teams, the only way this series turns ugly is if it becomes a blowout.
BB: Ryan Miller hasn’t been very good in April. That said, do you think that Chicago has to worry about him finding the on-switch in time for the playoffs?
KS: The biggest playoff hockey fear is running into a hot goalie like the Hawks did in 2012 in Mike Smith. Miller can be that hot goalie but it would have to be a big switch thrown by the way he played down the stretch.
BB: Everyone knows about players like Kane, Marian Hossa and Toews. Who’s an ex-factor kind of guy that the Blackhawks roster that you believe could surprise people who don’t watch Chicago often?KS: The biggest x-factor guy is Bryan Bickell. He’s a playoff performer that gets lost in the regular season. Bickell is the only Hawk with size that can throw his body around, park himself in front of Miller, and has a skill set to score. If Bickell plays like he did last spring the Hawks are extremely dangerous.
BB: Do the Blues have any individual player that should make the pairing of Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook nervous at all? Those two are obviously one of the strongest duos in the NHL. Do you think St. Louis has anyone that could catch them off guard?
KS: Keith is one of the best defenders in the NHL but him and Seabrook generally don’t get the toughest assignments mostly due to Seabrook. Seabrook—like Bickell—shines under the bright lights of the playoffs so don’t expect them to be fooled.
BB: If you’re so inclined, what’s your prediction for the way this one plays out?
KS: Hawks in 6. The Heart of a Champion is bigger than a lot of obstacles!
Again, a big thanks goes out to Mr. Schultz for taking the time to answer some questions for us. Check out Blackhawk Up to take a gander at how things are looking across enemy lines.