Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks Have Solid Playoff Footing — Really

By Colin Likas
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The Chicago Blackhawks are 24 games into their 82-game regular season. It’s not a significant mark, by any means, but it seems like a fair sample size for a season. One-third of an 82-game season is about 27 games, so we’re rapidly approaching that mark. And while it’s way too early to be finalizing the playoff field, we can at least offer some projections about how it might look in April.

I decided to look at the Western Conference standings each year in the Jonathan ToewsPatrick KaneJoel Quenneville era (so, starting with 2008-09 season) at the point the Blackhawks had completed 24 regular-season games. I did this to see if we could glean any hints as to how similar the playoff picture remained between the 24-game mark and the 82-game mark, so far as how many teams that had a playoff spot at the former time still held one at the latter time.

The results were pretty interesting. In the Toews-Kane-Quenneville era, there has not been a season in which all eight Western Conference teams that held a playoff spot at the Blackhawks’ 24-game mark also held a spot at the end of the regular season. Below is a season-by-season breakdown. After that, I’ll take a look at the current season and offer guesses at to how similar the current playoff picture will look to the end-of-season playoff picture.

2008-09, at Blackhawks’ 24-game mark

San Jose: 22-3-2, 46 points (Led Pacific Division)

Detroit: 18-4-4, 40 (Led Central Division)

Vancouver: 15-10-2, 32 (Led Northwest Division)

Calgary: 15-10-1, 31

Minnesota: 15-10-1, 31

Anaheim: 14-10-3, 31

Nashville: 14-10-2, 30

Chicago: 11-6-7, 29

2008-09, at end of the regular season

San Jose: 53-18-11, 117 (P)

Detroit: 51-21-10, 112 (C)

Vancouver: 45-27-10, 100 (N)

Chicago: 46-24-12, 104

Calgary: 46-30-6, 98

St. Louis: 41-31-10, 92

Columbus: 41-31-10, 92

Anaheim: 42-33-7, 91

St. Louis and Columbus managed to sneak into the playoff picture, sending Nashville and Minnesota to the golf course. The division leaders were the same at the end of the regular season as they were at the Blackhawks’ 24-game mark this year, but that was certainly not the case in all following years.

2009-10, at Blackhawks’ 24-game mark

San Jose: 17-6-4, 38 (P)

Chicago: 16-6-2, 34 (C)

Calgary: 15-6-3, 33 (N)

Colorado: 14-8-4, 32

Los Angeles: 14-10-2, 30

Nashville: 14-9-1, 29

Phoenix: 14-11-1, 29

Dallas: 11-7-7, 29

2009-10, at end of the regular season

San Jose: 51-20-11, 113 (P)

Chicago: 52-22-8, 112 (C)

Vancouver: 49-28-5, 103 (N)

Phoenix: 50-25-7, 107

Detroit: 44-24-14, 102

Los Angeles: 46-27-9, 101

Nashville: 47-29-6, 100

Colorado: 43-30-9, 95

The Canucks went from out of the playoff picture at the Blackhawks’ 24-game mark to Northwest Division champions. That shouldn’t be too surprising, though, considering the Northwest was a very weak division in its final years. Dallas and Calgary fell out of the playoff picture by season’s end, though both were within seven or fewer points of eighth-place Colorado at the 82-game mark.

2010-11, at Blackhawks’ 24-game mark

Detroit: 13-4-2, 28 (C)

Phoenix: 11-5-5, 27 (P)

Vancouver: 11-7-3, 25 (N)

Columbus: 14-6-0, 28

St. Louis: 12-5-3, 27

Los Angeles: 13-8-0, 26

Colorado: 12-8-1, 25

Chicago: 11-11-2, 24

2010-11, at end of the regular season

Vancouver: 54-19-9, 117 (N)

San Jose: 48-25-9, 105 (P)

Detroit: 47-25-10, 104 (C)

Anaheim: 47-30-5, 99

Nashville: 44-27-11, 99

Phoenix: 43-26-13, 99

Los Angeles: 46-30-6, 98

Chicago: 44-29-9, 97

Again, a division champion went from out of the playoff picture at the Blackhawks’ 24-game point to division champion at the end of the regular season. This time, it was the San Jose Sharks in the Pacific. Colorado went from the No. 7 seed to the second-worst Western Conference team by season’s end, compiling just 68 points over 82 games.

2011-12, at Blackhawks’ 24-game mark

Chicago: 14-7-3, 31 (C)

Minnesota: 13-6-3, 29 (N)

San Jose: 13-6-1, 27 (P)

Detroit: 14-7-1, 29

Vancouver: 13-9-1, 27

Phoenix: 12-7-3, 27

Dallas: 13-9-1, 27

St. Louis: 12-8-2, 26

2011-12, at end of the regular season

Vancouver: 51-22-9, 111 (N)

St. Louis: 49-22-11, (C)

Phoenix: 42-27-13, 92 (P)

Nashville: 48-26-8, 104

Detroit: 48-28-6, 102

Chicago: 45-26-11, 101

San Jose: 43-29-10, 96

Los Angeles: 40-27-15, 95

Would you have believed it if I told you the Blackhawks were a division leader at this point in the season? I’m not sure I would have. Thanks to the screwy old system, the Blackhawks finished with nine more points than Pacific champ Phoenix and wound up as the road team in the clubs’ first-round playoff matchup. We all know how that turned out. The Wild went from Northwest leader at the Blackhawks’ 24-game mark to 14 points out of a playoff spot in this season.

2013, at Blackhawks’ 24-game mark

Chicago: 21-0-3, 45 (C)

Anaheim: 16-3-3, 35 (P)

Vancouver: 11-6-5, 27 (N)

Los Angeles: 12-7-2, 26

Detroit: 11-8-4, 26

San Jose: 11-7-4, 26

Phoenix: 11-9-3, 25

Dallas: 11-9-2, 24

2013, at end of the regular season

Chicago: 36-7-5, 77 (C)

Anaheim: 30-12-6, 66 (P)

Vancouver: 26-15-7, 59 (N)

St. Louis: 29-17-2, 60

Los Angeles: 27-16-5, 59

San Jose: 25-16-7, 57

Detroit: 24-16-8, 56

Minnesota: 26-19-3, 55

This was the lockout-shortened season in which 24 games was the halfway mark. And yet, two teams that were outside the playoff picture managed to jump in by the time the season had concluded. St. Louis and Minnesota were tied with Dallas in points when the Blackhawks hit their 24-game mark, so it wasn’t too crazy that they skated into the postseason.

2013-14, at Blackhawks’ 24-game mark

Anaheim: 17-6-3, 37 (Pacific Division No. 1)

Chicago: 16-4-4, 36 (Central Division No. 1)

San Jose: 15-3-5, 35 (P2)

St. Louis: 16-3-3, 35 (C2)

Colorado: 17-5-0, 34 (C3)

Los Angeles: 15-6-3, 33 (P3)

Minnesota: 15-5-4, 34 (Wild card No. 1)

Phoenix: 14-5-4, 32 (Wild card No. 2)

2013-14, at end of the regular season

Anaheim: 54-20-8, 116 (P1)

Colorado: 52-22-8, 112 (C1)

St. Louis: 52-23-7, 111 (C2)

San Jose: 51-22-9, 111 (P2)

Chicago: 46-21-15, 107 (C3)

Los Angeles: 46-28-8, 100 (P3)

Minnesota: 43-27-12, 98 (WC1)

Dallas: 40-31-11, 91 (WC2)

This is as close as we’re going to get to all eight teams staying in the playoff picture between the Blackhawks’ 24-game mark and the end of the regular season. Dallas spoiled the party here, pushing Phoenix from the playoffs by two points. You might remember this as the season the Blackhawks-Kings Western Conference finals matchup was considered by some (this writer included) to be the true Stanley Cup matchup — despite the teams being No. 3 seeds in their respective divisions.

2014-15, at Blackhawks’ 24-game mark

Nashville: 16-5-2, 34 (C1)

Vancouver: 16-6-1, 33 (P1)

St. Louis: 16-6-2, 34 (C2)

Anaheim: 14-6-5, 33 (P2)

Calgary: 15-8-2, 32 (P3)

Chicago: 15-8-1, 31 (C3)

Los Angeles: 12-7-5, 29 (WC1)

Winnipeg: 12-9-4, 28 (WC2)

2014-15, at end of the regular season

Anaheim: 51-24-7, 109 (P1)

St. Louis: 51-24-7, 109 (C1)

Nashville: 47-25-10, 104 (C2)

Vancouver: 48-29-5, 101 (P2)

Chicago: 48-28-6, 102 (C3)

Calgary: 45-30-7, 97 (P3)

Minnesota: 46-28-8, 100 (WC1)

Winnipeg: 43-26-13, 99 (WC2)

Again, just a one-team difference between the two lists. This time, Minnesota jumped into the playoff picture, riding the goaltending of Devan Dubnyk, while the defending champions in Los Angeles flamed out down the stretch. This season really showed Central Division dominance that continues to occur in the Western Conference today.

So, with all of this in mind, let’s head to the current standings for the 2015-16 season to see who might stick in the playoff picture between now and April.

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