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Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks: How far can this team realistically go?

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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The Chicago Blackhawks have been on a roll as of late winning seven of their last 10 games. That begs the question, how good are the 2020 Blackhawks?

Before we get started, I’m not saying the Chicago Blackhawks are top contenders for the Stanley Cup. I’m also not saying they’re not. After starting the decade 6-3-0, there are a lot of questions being asked about this team.

Many fans are torn on the success of the Blackhawks. Some fans think it’s just a quick stretch of success that will fade off. Others believe the Blackhawks have found their identity again. The same identity that made them successful in the early 2010s.

Last night, Patrick Kane got his 1,000th career point. He was asked after the game what’s next for him. Kane brought up “a few more cups.” We haven’t heard that talk from the players in over two years. Even at the Blackhawks’ convention, Jonathan Toews hinted at it.

It’s fair to compare this team to last year’s Stanley Cup Champion, St. Louis Blues. The Blues were down and out when 2019 started. Many people had the Blues written off, even though it was halfway through the season.

The Blackhawks have been written off, even by their own fans. They aren’t terrible, they were really close to the playoffs last season. It came down to the last two weeks. It seems like it’ll come down to the last few weeks again this season.

If the Blackhawks make the playoffs, they’ll most likely be a wildcard team. They could even matchup with the Blues in the first round. The last time both teams matched up, the Blues knocked the Blackhawks out of the playoffs in Game 7 overtime of the very first round.

The team is starting to gel together. It starts with both goalies. They’ve played well during this hot streak. Corey Crawford and Robin Lehner have shown up big time as of late. Lehner has had a great season, to begin with, Crawford is just now catching up.

They might just be a slow-starting team. In hockey, that’s okay. It’ll come down to these last 32 games. A few weeks ago, I said the Blackhawks could only lose 17 more times, hopefully, 5 of them in overtime. They’ve lost twice since. That doesn’t mean they can start losing, that just means they’re on a good path.

That would have them finish with a 17-15 record. That’s 34 additional points. If they finish 17-15-0, they’ll have 88 points. I’m not sure 88 points will clinch the wildcard. They’d need a few of those losses to be in overtime. I think a 17-11-4 record is fair and better for the team. That gives them 92 points to finish the season.

If they had 92 points last season, they would have clinched the eighth seed. Right now, the Blackhawks are three points out of the playoffs with 64 points remaining on the season. So in theory, if they finished 17-11-4, they could be a playoff team. That’s the worst case.

I think they’ll do better than that. If they could win 20 of their next 32 games, they’ll be a playoff team. That gives them 94 points to start with. A few of their 12 losses might be in overtime.

Either way, they do have a tough battle ahead of them. It’s very possible though. The team looks like a playoff team during the last few games. It’s all about being consistent and keeping it up. The old Blackhawks could do this, can the new Blackhawks do it too?

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