The Chicago Blackhawks have just ten games left in the regular season. How they perform in these games will dictate a potential playoff berth, draft pick positioning and much more. Here’s an in-depth analysis of three of their next 10.
First, let’s examine how the Chicago Blackhawks line up in the Wild Card race.
- WC1 – Stars – 82 pts – 73 GP
- WC2 – Coyotes – 78 pts – 73 GP
- 3 – Wild – 77 pts – 74 GP
- 4 – Avalanche – 76 pts – 73 GP
- 5 – Blackhawks – 74 pts – 72 GP
- 6 – Canucks – 74 pts – 74 GP
The ‘Hawks have at least a game in hand on every team, but it won’t be an easy road moving forward. If the Chicago Blackhawks win out it’d be hard to keep them out of the playoffs — the same can be said if every team in the conference suddenly forgets how to win — but just how likely is that?
At the end of the day the ‘Hawks can only worry about what’s under their control and coach Jeremy Colliton knows that as he’s repeatedly stressed taking one game at a time.
That method doesn’t quite work for us, so let’s look at the next three.
Philadelphia Flyers – March 21st
Hey, that’s today!
The Flyers currently sit at 78 points, six points out of a playoff spot in a very difficult Eastern Conference. They’re coming off a tough loss to the Montreal Canadiens two nights ago which set them back further in their unlikely playoff race. Philadelphia’s chances are slim, so like the Blackhawks they they need every win they can get.
It goes without saying that this is a big night for both teams. Given their history together, this game already feels like it could be a playoff-level atmosphere.
Then again, the Flyers fell flat in one of their biggest games of the season against Montreal. It isn’t unreasonable to think they do so again tonight.
It’s a very winnable game for our Blackhawks, and it’s one they need. The opponents don’t get any easier over this next 10-game stretch, so getting points where possible is a necessity.
The Philadelphia Flyers have given up 18 goals in their last five games, good for the Chicago Blackhawks potent offense. Carter Hart will be a challenging goalie for them to beat, but he’s lost 4 of his last 5. In his most recent outing he was pulled after giving up 3 goals on 9 shots.
The wheels seem to be falling off at the wrong time for Philly, which works perfectly for Chicago.
My guess? Blackhawks win, 4-2.
Colorado Avalanche – March 23rd, 24th
The Chicago Blackhawks will play a home and home this weekend against the Avs, who currently sit two points above them in the playoff standings. Prior to this matchup, the Avalanche will play the Dallas Stars Thursday night (tonight). Should they win, this game becomes that much bigger for the Chicago Blackhawks.
Making up two points is manageable, making up four will be harder. No one said a trip to the playoffs would be easy, but the Chicago Blackhawks can’t afford to make things any more challenging on themselves.
Fortunately, the ‘Hawks have fared well in their three previous matchups.
- Dec. 21, on the road: 2-1 win. Collin Delia stopped 35 of 36 shots in an outstanding effort.
- Dec 29, on the road: 3-2 overtime win. The ‘Hawks lost a 2-0 lead but Patrick Kane (with help from Jonathan Toews and Erik Gustafsson) was the hero in overtime.
- Feb 22, at home: 5-3 loss. This was the biggest game of the season at the time, yet the ‘Hawks fell flat in the first 20. The Blackhawks fell behind a goal three separate times and came back to tie, however the fourth goal was a backbreaker and they ultimately lost 5-3.
The season record suggests the Chicago Blackhawks have a decent chance in winning both of these games, however their collapse in February makes you think twice. The ‘Hawks have had some of their worst periods during their most important games this season, a trend they badly need to break. If they want to take four points from the Avs, that simply cannot happen.
The Avalanche have a dangerous offensive attack with one of the best lines in hockey, so it’ll be a test for the questionable Blackhawks defense.
My prediction: Chicago wins the first and loses the second in overtime.
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These two games against Colorado are more or less must-wins for the Chicago Blackhawks. They need to pass them in the standings and this is their final, and best, opportunity to do so. Let’s hope they don’t waste it.