Blackhawks-Wild series opens Friday night at the United Center

SHARE Blackhawks-Wild series opens Friday night at the United Center
SHARE Blackhawks-Wild series opens Friday night at the United Center

Late Night with the Blackhawks will continue into the second round, as Game 1 of their second-round series with the Minnesota Wild will begin at 8:45 p.m. on Friday night at the United Center. Game 2 will be Sunday will have a 7:40 p.m. puck drop.

With the NFL Draft beginning Thursday in Chicago and the Bulls potentially hosting a Game 7 against Milwaukee on Saturday, the Friday-Sunday start made the most sense. And with the Eastern Conference getting the early 7 p.m. local starts, the two remaining Central Division teams again got pushed back. Game 3 will be 7 p.m. in St. Paul on Tuesday, but Game 4 will be another 8:45 p.m. start on Thursday.

Both Hawks coach Joel Quenneville and center Brad Richards lamented the late starts, but it’s a postseason fact of life for Central Division teams, as the NHL tries to maximize the television audience for each game.

“The problem is our geography right now,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told the Associated Press Sports Editors last week. “We have mostly teams in the Central and Eastern time zones. In order to maximize the availability of the game to as many people as possible, we’re trying to stagger the times in a way that makes sense.

“We’ve asked each of the Central teams to put at least one game at 8:30, so we can stagger it with an Eastern game. From a local team’s standpoint, we understand, but we’re trying to maximize the availability of games on a national basis to get as many games to as many people as possible.”

Three of the Hawks’ first-round games with Nashville began at 8:45 p.m. local time, and last season’s second-round matchup with the Wild featured multiple late starts, as well.

Here’s the full schedule, with the official start times for TV coverage, in central time:

Friday, May 1 at Chicago, 8:30 p.m. NBCSN

Sunday, May 3 at Chicago, 7:30 p.m. NBCSN

Tuesday, May 5 at Minnesota, 7 p.m. NBCSN

Thursday, May 7 at Minnesota, 8:30 p.m. NBCSN

*Saturday, May 9 at Chicago, TBD

*Monday, May 11, at Minnesota, TBD

*Wednesday, May 13, at Chicago, TBD

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