The Chicago Blackhawks early-season record against conference opponents has not been good so far this year, and may prove costly in the fight for the playoffs
Thursday night, the Chicago Blackhawks seemed to only be going through the motions in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Dallas Stars at the United Center. Their third game in four nights, the ‘Hawks could only produce 10 shots on goal in the first two periods and had to come from behind three different times to force overtime before ultimately losing.
What’s worse is the loss comes to a conference opponent, and one that has an extremely similar record to the ‘Hawks. The Stars (14-10-1) sit at 29 points this season, one point ahead of the Blackhawks (12-9-4).
Still early in the season, that extra point in overtime Dallas received is the difference between the first wild card slot and being the first team out of the playoffs, which is where the Blackhawks found themselves Friday morning.
The Blackhawks have had an up-and-down year overall, but consistently they have struggled against division opponents, which is extremely concerning.
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The ‘Hawks are 2-5-1 against the Central Division this year. This means out of a possible 16 points in eight divisional games, the Blackhawks only tallied five points in the standings.
On the opposite end, the Central Division opponents playing the ‘Hawks have taken 13 out of a possible 16 points going head-to-head with Chicago. That’s eight extra points going to division teams in only eight games so far this year.
Missing out on points is one thing, but if the ‘Hawks continue to lose to division opponents, they are only digging a bigger hole to try and crawl out of later.
The Blackhawks still have 18 games remaining against division opponents, the first coming Saturday night in Dallas against the Stars once again. Later this month, they will have a three-game stretch between Dec. 14 and 21 where they will play the Jets, Wild and Stars.
These four games in the next three weeks will be especially crucial for a team that is continuously surrendering points to the division rivals it is fighting for a playoff spot against. If the Blackhawks can’t find a way to start taking points from their Central Division opponents, it may be their ultimate demise in 2017-18.