The Chicago Blackhawks will enter the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs as the lowest seed in the Western Conference. This means that they will play the highest seed that remains, with each round they make it to.
There are a lot of storylines that can stem from this newly developed post-season format. One of them being how lucky the Chicago Blackhawks are to even be part of the conversation.
The Blackhawks ended the season in 12th place. Under normal circumstances, that would have placed them too far of a distance away in the rankings from being able to battle for the Stanley Cup. This year is different.
With the post-season plan communicated, the league announced the 24 teams that would be taking part. The top 12 (based on points percentage) from each conference are involved. Chicago sits in the last eligible spot of the Western Conference standings, but nevertheless they’re through.
The most recent update on the plan for these playoffs further detailed the Qualifying Round and Seeding Round Robin. Both to be played prior to the First Round, which will then include the 16 remaining teams.
The qualifying match-ups will consist of the eight lowest-ranked teams per conference playing in a best-of-5 series. The seeding games will include the top four teams from each conference, playing the others once (three games each) to determine their ranking from that point forward.
In other words, the teams that are currently ranked from 5th-12th place in their conference will maintain those placements, whereas the 1st-4th seeds will be determined from the results of the Seeding Round Robin.
With the Blackhawks entering the post-season in 12th, the options are limited for which teams they could potentially face if they are victorious against the Oilers through their Qualifying Round.
Chicago will always be considered the lowest Western Conference seed as they progress through these playoffs, regardless of how far they may get throughout them. They will only be facing the highest-ranked teams from the West.
They have four potential opponents in the First Round, should they find themselves in it. All of those clubs are part of the round-robin to determine seeding.
At the season’s end, these are the top four teams from the Western Conference:
Again, these current placements are subject to change after the Seeding Round Robin. Basically, the team that has the strongest record after these games will then be considered the 1st place seed of the Western Conference throughout the playoffs.
That’s also then the team that the Chicago Blackhawks will find waiting for them in the First Round, if they are able to make it there.
Below are the head-to-head stats between the Blackhawks and all of the respective opponents they could face if they move on.
St. Louis Blues
The Blackhawks were winless against the Blues all season, not even registering an overtime point along the way. Making this flashback worse for the team, they also allowed twice as many goals against as compared to how many they were able to earn in the four games these two played.
Colorado’s offensive power was clearly a lot for Chicago to handle throughout the year. The Blackhawks were only able to squeeze out one win, from the four times these teams met, while they averaged allowing almost five goals against per game.
Vegas Golden Knights
They split their season series with the Golden Knights, going 1-1-1 throughout 2019-20. There were fewer goal lights in this season series overall, at both ends of the rink, but Vegas still found a way to get to the back of the net more times than the Blackhawks did.
Although Chicago and Dallas shared the same record throughout their three meetings this season, this stat line stands out to the benefit of the Blackhawks. Of these four teams, the Stars are the only one that Chicago scored on more than they were scored against. They limited Dallas to scoring only four goals total.
With the parity of this league, anything can happen in the playoffs. But these are certainly trends that Chicago might want to be aware of. It becomes pretty clear that the Blackhawks should be hoping to see the Stars on the other side of the rink, if they make it into that round.
First and foremost, the Chicago Blackhawks need to focus on defeating the Edmonton Oilers. Chicago went 2-1 against Edmonton this season, scoring an average of 3.33 goals for while allowing 3.00 against per game. If they can outscore the Oilers, they’ll hope to do so against Dallas next.