For all their accomplishments so far - the record-breaking start, the Presidents' Trophy, the individual honors - the Chicago Blackhawks know this is the time of year that will define their season. They said the same thing all along.
Jonathan Toews and Co. also know all the reasons for concern heading into their playoff series against the Minnesota Wild.
The Blackhawks are favored to make it to the Stanley Cup for the second time in four seasons, but the Wild bring plenty of talent into Game 1 on Tuesday night. Then there is Chicago's recent postseason history, and the checkered performance for past winners of the Presidents' Trophy, adding to the intrigue.
''Everyone knows, if you look at how the playoffs have gone the past couple years, if you're the first or the eighth seed, it doesn't really matter,'' Toews said after the Blackhawks practiced at the United Center on Monday. ''So as soon as Game 1 starts tomorrow, everything that happened before that is pretty meaningless and ...