A strong offensive month for Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane has earned him an NHL honor
Friday night’s win by the Chicago Blackhawks against the Columbus Blue Jackets marked the end of another successful month for the men in the Indian Head. The Blackhawks concluded March with an 11-3-2 record, and a big reason for that was Patrick Kane.
The star forward collected 22 points in 16 games last month, and as a result he won the NHL’s Third Star of the Month award. In those 16 games, Kane recorded at least one point 12 times.
Three different times during his March run, Kane tallied three points. One of those instances was a hat trick against Pittsburgh in the month’s first game.
Kane’s recent points binge has pushed him to second in the NHL with 87 total (34 goals, 53 assists). That included him assisting on all three goals last night against Columbus.
Kane is one of just six players in the NHL with 80 or more points. He’s led only by Edmonton’s
Blackhawks can clinch Central Division, Western Conference tonight
Before we jump into a little more Blackhawks news, it’s worth noting who the NHL’s other two stars of March were. The first star was the aforementioned Kucherov, from Tampa Bay. He recorded 22 points in 14 games last month, leading the league with six powerplay goals in that time. Kucherov’s push has Tampa Bay back in playoff contention.
The second star was Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, whom the Blackhawks handed a regulation loss last night — Bobrovsky’s only one of March. He went 9-1-1 with a 1.09 goals-against average and .967 save percentage for the Blue Jackets.
Now, back to the Blackhawks. Depending on the result of this afternoon’s game between the Minnesota Wild and Nashville Predators, the Blackhawks could wrap up the Central Division and Western Conference titles.
If the Wild lose to the Preds, either in regulation or extra time/a shootout, the Blackhawks will be the top team in the West regardless of how they play in the final four games. The Blackhawks currently sit with 107 points, while the Wild hold 98 points with one fewer game played.
It would take a wild (no pun intended) set of circumstances for the Blackhawks to drop the Central and Western Conference titles at this point. Only Minnesota can catch Chicago at this point (Anaheim is in third in the conference and can max out at 106 points), and the Wild would need a regulation or overtime win in all of their remaining games to surpass the Blackhawks (while also hoping Chicago loses out).
This could set up an interesting scenario for the Blackhawks. They’re taking on teams in Boston and Anaheim that are fighting for playoff spots, as well as Colorado and Los Angeles (the Kings are essentially dead in the playoff hunt) in their last four games. Three of those are on the road. After tomorrow’s matinee against the Bruins, I could see the Blackhawks going for the rest strategy.
Some of the defensemen and big-name forwards could get some down time over these final three games. Corey Crawford and Scott Darling could split starts (Darling starting against the Avs would at least make sense). Coach Joel Quenneville‘s strategy for the regular season’s final week hinges on what the Wild do today.
Regardless, it seems like the Blackhawks are likely to wrap up both of these titles. It’s hard to imagine they’re as concerned about the President’s Trophy, but it’s still in play. Washington leads that race with 110 points in a fewer game played.