Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks: Significance Of Another Playoff Berth

By Colin Likas
Mar 27, 2016; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville watches the play during the third period against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena. The Chicago Blackhawks won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 27, 2016; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville watches the play during the third period against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena. The Chicago Blackhawks won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports /
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As we’ve said a lot lately, the Chicago Blackhawks didn’t have the prettiest of games last night. But the team got two points in a a game that would’ve been embarrassing with any other result, defeating the host Vancouver Canucks 3-2. The bottom-six forwards and goaltender Scott Darling were again the stars, though it was nice to see the top line step up and contribute the game-winning goal, with Jonathan Toews setting up an Andrew Ladd snipe past Ryan Miller late in the third period.

With the victory over the Canucks, the Blackhawks moved to 95 points on the season with eight games remaining, four back of both the Stars and Blues, as well as four ahead of the Predators. But the win also achieved something else: an eighth consecutive Stanley Cup playoffs spot for the Blackhawks.

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The spot wasn’t in a whole lot of doubt, as the Blackhawks would have needed to more or less lose out to let both Minnesota and Colorado (in addition to Nashville) surpass them in the standings. The remaining questions ahead of the postseason, which draws closer with each day, center around how the Chicago outfit’s lineup will be structured for the postseason and who the team will draw in the first round, but it’s important we also pay notice to this achievement.

Sure, this Blackhawks unit doesn’t look like an unstoppable monster right now, but eight straight playoff berths is a pretty solid feat. The Detroit Red Wings hold and have held this standard for excellence with 24 consecutive seasons with playoff hockey. That run is in doubt once again, however, as the team is battling with Philadelphia for the second wild card spot in the East. The Pittsburgh Penguins, who are looking like a lock to qualify for the playoffs, will run their streak to 10 straight seasons should they avoid a collapse down the stretch.

The Blackhawks come after those two teams with eight straight qualifications, and things really drop off across the league from there. The New York Rangers and St. Louis Blues both have the fourth-longest active streak at five seasons (quickly nearing six for the Rangers). Think about that: The Blues are among the top playoff qualifier streak holders in the league at this moment.

But it’s about more than the league-wide perspective for the Blackhawks and their fans, or at least it should be. There have been just two stretches of time during which the team has failed to qualify for the postseason repeatedly over a noticeable span. The first came across the 1944-45 and 1957-58 seasons, during which the Blackhawks made the postseason just twice in 14 tries and didn’t win a series in either of those two successes. It’s worth noting there were still only six teams in the league at this point.

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The second stretch, however, was what many current Blackhawks fans refer to as the dark times. Beginning with the 1997-98 season and extending through the 2007-08 campaign, Chicago made the playoffs just one time in 10 seasons, falling meekly to the Blues in that one qualification. Since the Penguins were crowned champions in 2008, however, the Blackhawks have not missed the postseason. They came close in the 2010-11 season, needing Dallas to lose on the final day of the regular season to secure entry. But it has happened nonetheless.

It’s certainly something we should respect, appreciate and enjoy as Blackhawks fans. While things have been bumpy of late, there is still a group of guys in Chicago that has fought crazy hard to bring themselves, their fans and their adopted city as much success as possibly before they all have to hang up the skates. While we as fans ask for a ton from these players, those are some pretty great gifts to be given as fans, especially when they bear three Stanley Cups and eight straight years of at least a little playoff hockey.

Who knows how this season’s playoff run might pan out, but we should certainly take a moment to be happy we get to see it and cheer on a team we care about in the postseason. After all, we could be like Canada — seven teams, no postseason. I’ll take this crop of Blackhawks, thank you very much.

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