The Chicago Blackhawks had a great month of January. Due to their great month, they now find themselves in the hunt for the playoffs, something no one saw coming.
We could talk all day how this teams run for the playoffs makes no sense, or how there are just too many holes on the defense to win it all, but the fact remains the Chicago Blackhawks are in this. There are however a few teams standing in the way of the Blackhawks and the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Even if the Blackhawks play extremely well throughout the next two months they are not guaranteed a playoff spot. This team might be able to make a wildcard game but in order to do that, they are going to need some other teams to lose.
Remember the 2010-11 season when the Blackhawks snuck into the playoffs on the last day of the season? We are looking at something like that once again. I do not see this team making one of the top three teams in the Central Division. Those days are over for the Blackhawks and have been for a while, as they have not made the playoffs since 2017 as the top team in the west.
If the Blackhawks are going to make the playoffs it is going to be as a wildcard team. However, the hunt for the two wildcard spots is wide open. I have identified four key candidates that the Blackhawks have to watch out for.
The Chicago Blackhawks play one more game against the Calgary Flames this season. The two teams will face off on February 15th in Calgary. The interesting thing about this matchup is the Flames and Blackhawks have split their series so far this season, and the next game will be big in deciding the Blackhawks playoff fate.
The Arizona Coyotes have struggled as of late but that does not change their status within the standings. Arizona currently holds onto the final wildcard position in the western conference. Chicago does not have any games left against the Coyotes so if the Coyotes can turn things around the Blackhawks will not get a chance to stop them.
It is nice seeing Winnipeg this far down on the standings. The juggernaut that once boasted players like Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd have fallen, and are currently on the outside looking in for the playoffs.
The Blackhawks and Jets have faced off three times this season, and it seems like the Blackhawks have had their number as they are 2-0-1 against the Jets so far this season. The team does still has two more meetings till the end of the year with the first coming on February 9th.
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If you thought it was nice seeing Winnipeg on the outside looking in for the playoffs I bet you are loving seeing Nashville this far down in the standings. The Predators coaching change a month ago has not worked out for the team, as they are still on the outside and just have not been as electric as they once were.
The Blackhawks and Predators have faced each other three times this season, and the ‘Hawks are currently 1-2 against their rivals from the south. Winning their final two meetings against the Predators will be critical. Remember when the Blackhawks were beaten pretty easily in Nashville in October by a score of 3-0? Hopefully, we don’t see anything like that again.