Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks’ Week Ahead Is A Last Gasp

By Colin Likas
Mar 19, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Stars center Cody Eakin (20) talks with right wing Patrick Eaves (18) during a time out in the game against the New York Islanders at American Airlines Center. Dallas won 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 19, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Stars center Cody Eakin (20) talks with right wing Patrick Eaves (18) during a time out in the game against the New York Islanders at American Airlines Center. Dallas won 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mar 19, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Stars left wing Jamie Benn (14) skates with the puck in the third period against the New York Islanders at American Airlines Center. Dallas won 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

Today: Dallas Stars at Chicago Blackhawks, 7:30 p.m. (CSN Chicago)

Well, this should be fun. It’d behoove the Blackhawks to wake up for this game instead of crapping themselves like they have for most of the other games this season against Dallas. If they really plan to win the Central, or at least contest for it down the stretch, this game is a must-win.

We all know the story about Dallas at this point, though things have gotten rough for the Stars. This is almost entirely based around injuries, with a big one coming down last week. Tyler Seguin will miss the rest of the regular season with a partially torn Achilles tendon. He expects to be back for the playoffs, which is slightly insane and may mean he’ll miss some regular-season time in 2016-17. Forward Mattias Janmark is also out with an upper-body injury.

Guys like Patrick Sharp, John Klingberg and Jason Demers, among others, have recently returned from injury. So this team is close to full strength, though a missing Seguin is pretty big. Still, Jamie Benn, Sharp and a whole host of offensively effective forwards and defensemen make this team tough to stop consistently. The key is to wear down the Stars’ defense and barrage their goaltenders, who will ultimately sink them in any playoff series. And they’ve ultimately sunk them in several games this season, hence why we aren’t already talking about the Central Division champion Dallas Stars.

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Mar 21, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Calgary Flames defenceman Mark Giordano (5) and Toronto Maple Leafs forward Zach Hyman (11) battle for the puck at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto defeated Calgary 5-2. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /

Saturday: Chicago Blackhawks at Calgary Flames, 9 p.m. (WGN)

The Blackhawks get a much-needed four-day break after the Stars tilt ahead of their final road trip of the season. And, boy, does that trip feature some bad teams. That’s good news for the Blackhawks, assuming they show up.

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First on that docket are the Flames, who have managed to jump within a point of fourth in the Pacific Division simply because the Coyotes, Canucks and Oilers are inept. The Flames aren’t really doing anything amazingly well, considering they’ve gone 5-3-2 in their last 10 games. Though they did put up a seven spot on the Blues somewhat recently. Here’s hoping they don’t do that to Chicago.

This isn’t to say the Flames are devoid of talent. Johnny Gaudreau is a fantastic young player, even if he does weigh 95 pounds soaking wet. His 71 points far and away lead the team, 16 clear of another promising youngster, Sean Monahan. Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie are solid offensive defensemen, though they both leave something to be desired in actual opponent coverage. And then, it’s pretty bad from there. Although, Michael Frolik had a hat trick in that seven-goal pileup against St. Louis. Nice going, Fro.

In two games this season, the Blackhawks routed the Flames and lost in overtime to them. They pretty much couldn’t be bothered to care in the latter game, which saw Darling try to carry the team to success, only to get Gaudreau’d in the extra frame. If the Blackhawks can get any semblance of consistent shooting at whoever is in net for the Flames, they should be fine, considering Calgary’s goaltending is a mess. Oh, and don’t let Gaudreau or Monahan get open space.

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Mar 19, 2016; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller (30) stops a shot by St. Louis Blues forward Kyle Brodziak (28) during the second period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports /

Sunday: Chicago Blackhawks at Vancouver Canucks, 7 p.m. (WGN)

The final back-to-back of the regular season offers poor opponents on both ends. The Canucks went from “probably not good enough to make the playoffs” to “maybe they’ll sneak in because the Pacific is bad” to “time to rebuild this sucker” across a 71-game stretch, which is pretty impressive. They’re ahead of only Edmonton and Winnipeg in the West thanks to a four-game slide.

If you thought the Blackhawks had trouble scoring, the Canucks will make you envious of Chicago’s struggles. Vancouver has just 167 goals, just one more than New Jersey (worst in the league) and rounding out to an average of 2.35 goals per game. And they pretty much all come from Daniel Sedin and Jannik Hansen, with Henrik Sedin providing a bulk of the assists. Only six Canucks are in double-digit goals, and only two have more than 15. Likewise, only two Canucks (both Sedins) have more than 50 points this season. Yikes.

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There’s nothing here on defense to stop pucks from getting to Ryan Miller, who alternates between injured and not very good anymore. Luckily for opponents, there’s nothing in the pipeline that’s ready to play right now in net, so Miller will keep taking his beatings.

This is the same exact story as Calgary, except you don’t want to let the Sedins and Hansen get open instead of Gaudreau and Monahan. Really should be two easy points unless the Sedins go hog-wild on the Blackhawks again. You know they want to.

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