If you want to root for a Chicago team, the Blackhawks are the clear choice. With three Stanley Cup victories in the past six years, the team has united the city, and most Wheaton students have been on campus to witness at least one of the historic championship runs.
After the Hawks’ victory last year, the salary cap necessitated trading key players like veteran Patrick Sharp and young talent Brandon Saad. Yet with new acquisitions and the rise of rookie Artemi Panarin, the Hawks bounced back for an impressive 47-26-9 season, though finishing only third in the highly competitive Central Division. Patrick Kane, living up to his “Showtime” nickname, has also contributed more than his fair share, awarded the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s top scorer with 106 points.
The first round of the playoffs started last night, and the Hawks face their rival St. Louis Blues, ensuring an intense series. Finishing 2-0-3 against the Blues in the regular season, the Hawks have the potential to knock the heavy-hitting team out of the playoffs as they did in 2014.
While captain David Backes returned to the Blue’s lineup for last night’s game, the return of Hawks goaltender Corey Crawford last Saturday and of defenseman Duncan Keith in Game 2 will give the Blackhawks the depth they need to survive to the second round.
If you’re not from Chicago and would rather cheer for your home state’s team, don’t worry. With a high population of Wheaton students from Minnesota and California, the NHL playoffs will be worth watching for our campus, featuring the Minnesota Wild and all three of California’s teams: the Ducks, Kings and Sharks. The Anaheim Ducks, especially, have made an exciting comeback this season and are contenders to go all the way to the finals, where they would most likely face the number one finishing Washington Capitals.
Whichever team for which you choose to cheer, make sure to tune into at least one Blackhawks-Blues game in order to see what all of the excitement in Chicago is about.