Key opponents remaining
One of the bigger issues facing the Blackhawks right now is how many opponents they need to leap over to secure a postseason spot. Though Chicago is just 10 points out of the Central Division’s third playoff slot with two games in hand (on St. Louis), the Blackhawks also occupy last place in the division.
Calgary, Colorado, Anaheim, Minnesota, Dallas, Los Angeles and San Jose all offer blockades to a wild-card position, a much more likely venture for the Blackhawks as of now. Though just five points separate the Blackhawks and wild-card-leading Stars, there is reason for hope: the schedule.
Not that it’s easy for the Blackhawks. Actually, they face some stiff competition over the next few months. But that comes with opponents the Blackhawks are trying to leapfrog. Let’s take a closer look:
February: Calgary (2), Dallas, Minnesota, Anaheim, Los Angeles San Jose
March: San Jose (2), Los Angeles, Anaheim, Colorado (3)
Those are some prime opportunities for the Blackhawks to not only gain points, but also prohibit key opponents from adding to their point total. Oh, and if you want to go even further with this, the Blackhawks play both Winnipeg and St. Louis three more times each. More chances.
Really, we’re going to see Chicago’s mettle here. If the Blackhawks can collect a winning record specifically against these teams, they’ll have a much better shot at moving on to the playoffs. Because the Blackhawks can play as well as they want, but they’re still behind a ton of foes. So having those foes lose is part of the battle.