Step right up, place your bets, place your bets!
The Chicago Blackhawks are in the Stanley Playoffs that much we know. Who they are going to play in the 1st round is still a complete mystery. The Blackhawks will not know who they are playing or where they are going until after the final regular season games are played on Saturday. The Hawks could be the 4th seed, the 5th seed or the 6th seed and could play one of six teams.
The Blackhawks are going to need some help getting either the 4th seed or the 5th seed. The Detroit Red Wings have the 4th seed right now and lead the Hawks and the Nashville Predators by just one point. The Wings have 3 games remaining; at the St Louis Blues on Wednesday, home against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday and the Blackhawks on Saturday. That is a pretty tough final stretch for the Wings. Nashville also has 3 games left; home games against the Minnesota Wild tonight and the Dallas Stars on Thursday and they finish at the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night. The Blackhawks have a disadvantage since they just have two games left at Minnesota and Detroit. If they do move out of the 6th seed they will play either Detroit or Nashville in the opening round. We all know how bad the Hawks have been versus the Preds going 2-4 against them. I wouldn’t mind a matchup versus the Wings; the Hawks have gone 3-0-2 against them this season.
The most likely scenario has the Blackhawks in the 6th seed and playing the winner of the hot mess that is the Pacific Division. Going into the final 5 days of the regular season the Los Angeles Kings have 93 points, followed by the Phoenix Coyotes with 91 points, the San Jose Sharks with 90 points and the Dallas Stars still have a shot with 89 points. The Kings have given the Hawks some problems this season. The Hawks are 1-2-1 versus LA and goalie Jonathan Quick has shut them out twice. The Hawks have the same 1-2-1 record versus the Coyotes. They are 2-2 against both the Sharks and the Stars.
The Blackhawks are a combined 6-8-2 versus the possible Pacific opponents. I feel the most favorable post season matchup is against the Detroit Red Wings. The Hawks have played them tough all season, including 2 wins without Jonathan Toews. I would love another playoff series against the hated Wings, not only because of the rivalry but because it is a winnable series. The Hawks will need some luck to draw the Wings in the 1st round. They will need to win at Joe Louis arena on Saturday and hope either or both the Blues and Devils can beat the Wings in regulation. Before we can worry about that the Blackhawks must issue a little payback on the Wild on Thursday. After last season, I am happy just knowing the Hawks have their spot locked up going into the final week of the year!