Once the Chicago Blackhawks finish their games vs Detroit, their road to the playoffs will get drastically harder.
These eight points the Blackhawks have up for grabs this week will be the most important eight points the team will have played for in a long time. The Blackhawks have a two-point lead in the standings over the Columbus Blue Jackets, who they play twice this week and are way ahead of Detroit, who they also play twice.
These two teams are the weakest in the division as Florida, Carolina, and Tampa Bay look to be battling it out in a three-team competition for the top division spot, dominating their other division foes.
In the month of March, the Blackhawks will have:
- Five games, plus a three-game homestand to open the month, against the Tampa Bay Lightning
- Four games against the surprisingly good Florida Panthers
- Two games against the Carolina Hurricanes
Total games: 17
Total games against three of the top teams in the NHL: 11
The Chicago Blackhawks will have six games in the month where they have to pick up at least ten of twelve points against the Nashville Predators and the Dallas Stars. The Dallas Stars are still question marks as they have not exactly returned to their Western Conference Champions form. The ‘Hawks could go 1-0-1 against them.
Now the games against the Nashville Predators are the ones the Blackhawks cannot allow to slip away from them. They have to get at least a point in every game if they want to keep up in the playoff race. They have to finish with, at minimum, a 2-1-1 record against them. Columbus doesn’t have much more luck as they have a hard schedule too, but Dallas has a painfully easy schedule in April.
From here on, the Chicago Blackhawks will have their work cut out for them if they want to make the playoffs. They will have to go .650 at the least to maintain their position in the standings as Columbus and Dallas will be right at their heels the entire way. This division was called the “weakest in the league”, but the surprising Blackhawks team, and the slight regression of the Dallas Stars and Columbus Blue Jackets, tells a different story. The Central Division has four teams in the top ten in the league (with the Blackhawks being one of them), and the top three have had an equal battle for first as of late.
The Blackhawks need their guys to be on their A-game starting in March, and maintain the level throughout the rest of the season. Florida is looking to be no joke, and Tampa Bay is as good as they were before. Nine of seventeen games will be against them and the Blackhawks have to earn points in seven of nine to give them a lead over the Dallas Stars in case they return to their expected form, and surge down the stretch.
The only reason why I think the ‘Hawks have to play their best hockey is because the Dallas Stars have only played thirteen games to the nineteen games Chicago played. IF Dallas goes on a winning streak throughout April and May, and the Blackhawks don’t do well, the Stars could take the playoff spot. With the push for the playoffs looking to be challenging for both the Blackhawks and Blue Jackets, the ‘Hawks have to take advantage of their eight points this week and take at least 6 of 8.
“Doozy” is defined as a term that means “problematic” or “troublesome” in the negative context. This schedule, considering Dallas’ final stretch, is definitely in the “negative context” category for the Blackhawks.