In a must-win game, the Blackhawks played their worst game of the season, losing the game 4-1.
The Blackhawks played their worst game in the season against the worst team in the league.
After the first goal of the game, the Blackhawks found themselves playing flat-footed in the defensive zone, with Dylan Larkin and Filip Zadina skating circles around them. Kevin Lankinen allowed a horrible goal with a badly angled blocker, sending the puck over his own shoulder and into the net. Duncan Keith did score the opening goal, but the team looked to have gotten worse as the game went on.
Alex Debrincat had 0 SOG this game, as did Dylan Strome, and Kirby Dach. Patrick Kane was on the ice for all four goals against. Ian Mitchell returned to the lineup, but he did not play well at all. Pius Suter and Dach both had a 36.4% face-off win percentage, way too low for top-six centers.
In an overall horrible game by the Blackhawks, they lost not only the game but a chance to tie the Nashville Predators in the standings before their three-game series. The Blackhawks had two points for the taking, two extremely important points when you look at the standings. The Predators have just one game more than them, playing 45 compared to the Blackhawks’ 44.
Going into their three-game series, the Blackhawks could have very well tied the Predators in the standings with 49 points apiece. It was very likely for the Blackhawks to go 2-0-0 against the Red Wings while the Predators go 0-2-0 against the Hurricanes. Unfortunately, the Blackhawks didn’t show up and got embarrassed by one of the worst teams in the standings.
Now, the Blackhawks HAVE TO win on Saturday in their second game against the Red Wings as they approach the final stretch. Their upcoming schedule is (in order):
- 3 vs Predators (0-3-2 overall record)
- 1 vs Lightning (1-5-1 overall record)
- 2 vs Panthers (2-3-1 overall record)
- 3 vs Hurricanes (2-2-1 overall record)
- 2 vs Stars (4-2-0 overall record)
The Blackhawks have beaten every team on this list before, other than the Predators. It’s not too farfetched to think that the Hawks, if they play consistently over a twelve-game span, can go 2-1-0 vs the Predators. They then earn a 5-1-2 record against the other four teams for a 7-2-2 record and16 points down the stretch.
It’s also important to note that the Predators have an easier stretch of games than the Blackhawks do. If the ‘Hawks lose two of the three games of the series in regulation, their chances of making the playoffs could be close to none.
The Blackhawks need a dominant record in their final stretch of games, against the teams that have given them the most trouble this season. Is it possible for the ‘Hawks to still qualify for the playoffs? Yes, but this is a young team who have been plagued by their inconsistency.
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This team has had spurts of games where they looked like a true black horse contender. But they also had the same, if not more, games where they look lost and unmotivated. The way the ‘Hawks qualify for the playoffs is if they can play a complete, relentless game for at least seven of their last twelve games following a win vs Detroit on Saturday. They have done this before, and they will need to find ways to do it again.