With there being rumors of a 24-team playoff instead of a 16-team playoff due to the current circumstances, do the Chicago Blackhawks have a chance to win the Stanley Cup?
If the NHL decided to make a 24-team playoff race instead of finishing the regular season, the Chicago Blackhawks would be the final seed. Right now, the St. Louis Blues are the top seed in the Western Conference. So, I would assume a matchup against the Blues would happen.
Now, there have been many different ways a 24-team playoff race could turn out. I could see there being a mini-tournament to get the two wildcard spots. If that happens, Chicago would have to beat out multiple teams, to still end up against the Blues.
There would be 12 teams on each side, where the NHL would have to find a way to even everything out, to make it 8v8 for a total of four rounds in the playoffs. The way they can do that has a round-robin tournament between the 9-12 seeds, where the two winners match up with the 7-8 seeds.
If Chicago got past that, they’d be the eighth seed, which puts them against the Blues in Round 1.
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The Blackhawks haven’t done too hot against the Blues this season. They’ve lost all four meetings against the Blues, with them having a late lead in two of the games. That doesn’t sound promising.
On the other hand, the Blackhawks were dominating the Predators during the 2017 regular season, where they’d go on to get swept by them in the first round of the playoffs. This month-plus break could turn the momentum around for Chicago.
We’ve never seen anything like this in our lifetime. Of course, the 1919 NHL season was canceled hours before Game 6 of the Stanley Cup due to a pandemic. We’ve all seen lockout years and shortened seasons, but nothing like this in the last 100 years.
That being said, I am not sure how they’d come back. The veterans of the team needed this break if anything. It also gives guys the chance to heal up before a grueling playoff run. I am confident that the Blackhawks would make it out of the round-robin, to end up against the Blues. That’s only if the NHL does it that way.
If the NHL decided to give the top four seeds of each conference a first-round bye, having the bottom eight go at it for a spot in the “sweet 16”, the Blackhawks would end up facing the Stars. That’s a series I could see Chicago winning.
At this point, I would love to see hockey make a return. As the days go on though, I believe it’s less likely.