Chicago Blackhawks: Forward depth is key for playoff hopes
By Ryan Fedrau
The Chicago Blackhawks are back after a 10-day break. In last night’s 3-2 win, the team showed a lot of forward depth.
After 10 days off, it’s fair for a team to need a tune-up game before playing their best. The Chicago Blackhawks just had there’s. Now, the team has won six of their last seven games, and are three points out of the playoffs.
The Coyotes currently hold the last wildcard spot. They have three points on the Blackhawks, but they’ve played two more games than the Blackhawks. In theory, the Blackhawks control their playoff chances.
The Blackhawks will have a long month of February. Still, 11 of their next 13 games will be played on the road. Their next home game will be against the Bruins on Wednesday. That’s a tough team to play. The Blackhawks have struggled against the Bruins during the regular season as of late.
What the Blackhawks have going for them is their surprising forward depth. With the return of Brandon Saad and Dylan Strome, this team is ready to make a run.
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Saad has played lights out hockey since returning from injury. He has scored four goals in four games. He has also found some success with Patrick Kane. Kane is currently on a 12 game point streak.
Strome’s return to the ice is huge for the Blackhawks. They were missing Strome out there, it showed. He hasn’t played in a few weeks, but he played well against the Coyotes. Strome had multiple scoring chances and looked really good out there. Once he gets back to normal, he’ll be an even bigger asset to the team.
All the Blackhawks need now is Andrew Shaw to return. In Shaw’s absence, we’ve learned a thing or two about Dominik Kubalik. It turns out, Kubalik has added the depth to the Blackhawks’ lineup that will help them make a playoff push.
So, once Shaw returns, that adds that last person the team needs. Shaw adds the physical presence to the ice that they need. He gets in front of the net, sticks up for teammates, and does other unnoticed things. The Blackhawks really need him to return.
When Shaw returns, the team could be destined for a playoff run. The solid play from Saad and Strome will be a deciding factor. The success of Kubalik has really changed everything.
The Blackhawks still have a few things to work on. Chicago having a solid four lines is a great start. They’ll probably be buyers at the deadline, hopefully, Shaw will be back by then. If Shaw is back, the team won’t need to look for much upfront. It’ll come up to what Stan Bowman wants to do with the defensive situation.