In knocking off the St. Louis Blues in six games -- closing with four straight wins -- the Chicago Blackhawks relied on their usual cast of stars in this series, with "Mr. Reliable" Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp.
The pressure, however, was on the shoulders of goalkeeper Corey Crawford, who rebounded from his just-OK play early in the series. Crawford stood on his head as he made 35 saves on 36 shots in the Game 6 victory.
The defending champs now move on to the second round, and anyone who expects to win the Stanley Cup this year has to go through a very good Hawks team to get it. Good luck with that!
Bulls in a tough matchup:
I wish I could give a good report on the Chicago Bulls and their play against the Washington Wizards, but the Wizards just look like the better team.
This series was going to be close either way, but I must confess I thought the fourth-seeded Bulls would have their way with the fifth-seeded Wizards. Even though the Bulls are busting their tails, it looks like it's only a matter of time before they bow out.
I'm not counting the Bulls out completely yet, but they have to find someone to catch fire offensively on a frequent basis, and the playoffs are a difficult place to start looking for that someone.
Kenny Smith, TNT's basketball analyst, said he thinks Tom Thibodeau should go with different starters -- maybe Taj Gibson and D.J. Augustin instead of Kirk Hinrich and Carlos Boozer.
I'm not really sure about that idea, but maybe if what you are doing isn't working you need to change it.
If the Bulls are knocked out in the first round, the questions will flow.
In the meantime, they can Game 5 and then head to Washington for Game 6. Those questions can wait.
Abreu contract a great deal:
Early in the season, it looks like White Sox exec Kenny Williams and GM Rick Hahn got it right, and maybe rookie first baseman Jose Abreu's $68 million contract will be one of the best deals of all time.
The Chicago White Sox organization needed some good news, and it looks like Abreu is just what the doctor ordered.
I had Abreu batting .279 for the year with 27 home runs and 79 RBIs, but after breaking the rookie record for the month of April with 10 home runs and 31 RBI, he looks like he can put up numbers like Albert Pujols once did.
Abreu has work to do. He is still raw, but he's raw good and close to raw great!
Meanwhile the Sox have issues with their outfielders -- Avisail Garcia and Dayan Viciedo. If Viciedo could drop some weight, he could get to more balls and cover the alley, because once Garcia recovers from his shoulder surgery it will be difficult to play two 240-pound outfielders.
The White Sox and manager Robin Ventura were 13-13 heading into Monday's action, which is a lot better than I had expected.
Maybe something's brewing on the South Side.
Follow me on Twitter@ north2north, and listen to Fox Sports Daybreak with Andy Furman and myself from 5-8 a.m. Monday through Friday on Fox Sports radio. Catch my show from 7-11 a.m. Sundays, and check me out on iHeart radio or Foxsportsradio.com.
• Mike North's column appears each Tuesday and Friday in the Daily Herald, and his video commentary can be found Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at dailyherald.com. For more, visit northtonorth.com.