It's time to have some fun, Chicago.
Andy by fun I mean the Stanley Cup Playoffs. There's nothing like them in sports. The intensity. The drama. The payoff when they're all over. It makes the fur on the back of my neck stand up just thinking about it.
This year the Blackhawks have to go through Phoenix for a chance to lift Lord Stanley's Cup in the name of Chicago. The series begins Thursday in Glendale. That's a city in Arizona. Why they aren't called the Glendale Coyotoes, I can't answer.
But what I can do, as RedEye's prognosticating pooch, is give you spot-on predictions for this series.
Here now, my picks.
Blackhawks at Phoenix, 9 p.m. Thursday, CSN
First off, I gotta get this off my chest. Jobing.com Arena? That only reinforces my hope the Coyotes get jobbed hard by the Blackhawks. We'll have to wait for that, though. Game 1 is all Coyotes. Radim Vrbata just misses a hat trick as Phoenix rolls, 4-1.
PHOENIX LEADS SERIES 1-0.
Blackhawks at Phoenix, 9 p.m. Saturday, CSN
Consider Game 1 a wake-up call, Blackhawks nation. Patrick Kane, Andrew Shaw and Dave Bolland lead the charge, with Bolly even scoring one of his patented shorthanded goals. To add insult to injury, the Coyotes pull starting goalie Mike Smith, but it makes no difference. Blackhawks win 4-2.
SERIES TIED 1-1.
Blackhawks vs. Phoenix, 8 p.m. April 17, CSN
The Blackhawks and Corey Crawford sure picked a nice time to get their first shutout of the 2011-12 season. Yep, Crawesome does his best brick wall impersonation, stopping everything the Coyotes throw at him as the Blackhawks blow the roof off the United Center in a 5-0 win.
BLACKHAWKS LEAD SERIES 2-1.
Blackhawks vs. Phoenix, 7 p.m. April 19, CSN
It's about this time I need to tell you the Coyotes have a man named Raffi Torres on their roster. Yes, the same Raffi Torres who used to play for Vancouver and clobbered Brent Seabrook in last season's playoffs. Why do I mention that? He gets nasty in the third quarter of this one after the Blackhawks rock the Coyotes in a 3-1 win. Oh, he'll get his ...
BLACKHAWKS LEAD SERIES 3-1.
Blackhawks at Phoenix, 9 p.m. April 21, CSN
Torres, meet Brandon Bollig, the Blackhawks' new enforcer. No, scratch, that. Torres, meet Brandon Bollig's fists. Multiple times. Speaking of multiple times, that's a rough estimate of Marian Hossa's goals in this game. The Hoss helps the Blackhawks send the Coyotes packing in a 3-2 Blackhawks win. Bring on Vancouver. Or whoever ...
BLACKHAWKS WIN SERIES 4-1.