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Blackhawks face Oilers in NHL play-in round. Here are 10 factors that could tip the scales in their playoff series.

Phil Thompson, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Hockey

CHICAGO -- With a plus-130 line at several sports books, the Chicago Blackhawks aren't the worst bet to advance past the NHL play-in round. That would be the Montreal Canadiens, a fellow 12th seed, at plus-170.

If the league's return-to-play plan goes on without a hitch -- namely, a surge in coronavirus cases among players or a hub city -- the fifth-seeded Edmonton Oilers will be heavy favorites (minus-150), but they won't take the Hawks lightly.

Remember that it was out of concern about facing stars such as the Hawks' Patrick Kane and Canadiens goalie Carey Price that players and team executives nixed the idea of a three-game series in favor of a five-game format, according to "Hockey Night in Canada" analyst Elliotte Friedman.

Friedman said late last month, before the league and union settled on a playoff plan, "I did hear the Western teams, and now I hear that it's going to be Edmonton, they were like, 'Two out of three with Patrick Kane? I mean, c'mon.' "

Experience and three Stanley Cup titles must count for something, if not betting odds.

Here are 10 potential factors in the Blackhawks-Oilers series and how they apply to each team.

 

1. It's Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid versus Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews -- but for which lines?

-- Blackhawks: As strong as the Oilers forwards are, they have reason to worry about Kane. He had two goals and two assists in three meetings this season and has put up at least three points in three games against the Oilers since 2015-16.

The Kane-Dominik Kubalik- Toews line produced the most goals (15) for the Hawks this season, followed by the Kane-Alex DeBrincat-Dylan Strome combination (11), according to Left Wing Lock. Kane was 12th in the league with 33 goals and eighth with 84 points.

In the last meeting with the Oilers, a 4-3 Hawks win on March 5 at the United Center, Kane and Toews scored a goal apiece and DeBrincat scored twice. After the game, Kane talked about the Hawks' playoff hopes despite then-long odds.

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