Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks’ 5 Questions Heading Into All-Star Break

By Colin Likas
Jan 13, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville looks on from behind the bench against the Washington Capitals in the second period at Verizon Center. The Capitals won 6-0. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 13, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville looks on from behind the bench against the Washington Capitals in the second period at Verizon Center. The Capitals won 6-0. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /
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How badly do the Blackhawks need home-ice advantage?

Right now, it looks like the Blackhawks will be battling with the Minnesota Wild, San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks for home ice throughout the Western Conference playoffs. Nashville and Edmonton could make runs (and I guess St. Louis could, too), but it seems to be a party of four fighting for that honor right now.

Question is, how badly do the Blackhawks need it? Well, I would say it’s pretty important, and thus they need to break their winter malaise sooner rather than later.

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It’s not that the Blackhawks are bad on the road — their 12-9-1 mark is pretty good, though surpassed by Minnesota’s 15-5-5 record. It’s just that the Blackhawks would really, really benefit from getting last change more often than not in a seven-game series.

We don’t know for sure what the Blackhawks will or won’t do by the trade deadline, so there’s always a chance this team doesn’t change much. If that’s the case, the Blackhawks would need a serious amount of production from the top six to compete in the postseason.

As a result, that would require Q to make appropriate line shifts so these lines can get favorable matchups. By the same tokens, you wouldn’t want to put whoever the staff settles on as the 5/6 D out against an opponent’s top forwards.

The Blackhawks often seem to have this “We’ll see where we are once the stretch run starts” attitude to the middle of the season. It may have ultimately hurt them last season, as they really could’ve used home ice in at least the first round of the postseason against St. Louis.

Next: Eye On The Enemy: Winnipeg Jets

The Blackhawks would be wise not to let slip away an opportunity to get home ice, through at least some portion of the playoffs. That requires continued winning, especially when the Wild just won’t stop piling up points.

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