NHL: Western Conference Finals preview

Posted: May 16, 2010

Western Conference Final

   Records: No. 1 San Jose Sharks (51-20-11) vs. No. 2 Chicago Blackhawks (52-22-8)

   How they got here: San Jose beat No. 8 Colorado, four games to two, and

No. 5 Detroit, 4-1. Chicago beat No. 7 Nashville, 4-2, and No. 3 Vancouver, 4-2.

   2009-10 series record: Chicago, 3-1 (two wins in overtime). Chicago had 17 goals, San Jose 11.

   San Jose: The Sharks' only other appearance in the Western finals was a six-game loss to Calgary in 2004. ... They got past Detroit in second round with four one-goal victories. ... Joe Pavelski, who leads the Sharks with nine goals and 15 points in the playoffs, had a team-high three goals in the season series with the Blackhawks. He tied Dany Heatley for the club lead with five points against Chicago.

   Joe Thornton took a big step toward shedding the label of a poor postseason performer by leading San Jose with a career-best eight points - including three goals. ... Goalie Evgeni Nabokov played in all four regular-season games against Chicago, allowing 14 goals and posting a 3.78 goals-against average. ... Forty-year-old defenseman Rob Blake has 26 goals and 73 points in 142 career NHL playoff games. ... General manager Doug Wilson played 14 seasons on defense for Chicago.

   Chicago: The Blackhawks haven't been to the Stanley Cup Finals since being swept by Pittsburgh in 1992. They have gotten that far just three times since the NHL expanded in 1967, and haven't won the title since 1961. ... Captain Jonathan Toews has a nine-game point streak, posting six goals and 13 assists in the run. He has the NHL-best playoff points with 20.

   Defenseman Duncan Keith led with seven points, all coming on assists. Troy Brouwer has three goals and five points. ... Starting goalie Antti Niemi has never faced the Sharks in any game. Cristobal Huet had a 2.73 GAA against the Sharks in the four regular-season games. He has played just one period in the postseason. . . . Chicago is 5-1 on the road in the playoffs, with a 26-14 scoring edge.

   Prediction: San Jose in 6.

|
|
|
|
|