Coming out of the NHL All-Star break, the Chicago Blackhawks run to the playoffs has to begin now. The time for talking is over, the Blackhawks core needs to step up and deliver a lot of victories between now and the end of the season. They’ll need to win two out of three the rest of the way to push for a wild-card spot. They will also need to make several improvements to make this happen.
Chicago Blackhawks Run To The Playoffs Begins Now
The NHL season is set to resume Tuesday after the NHL All-Star game was played this past Sunday. Returning to action, the Chicago Blackhawks are facing long odds and a huge uphill battle ahead of them. They have 33 games left to play and are one of the teams sitting outside looking in on the playoffs.
Their record is 23-19-7 with 53 points. They are 4 points out of the last wild-card spot in the Western Conference and 7 points out of the top wild-card spot. They are also sitting 10 points behind the 3rd place team in their division. Based on how they’ve played this season, it is highly unlikely that they can overtake the 3rd place team, who has an automatic playoff spot, or the 1st and 2nd place teams. That leaves the Blackhawks battling against everyone else in the conference for one of the two wild cards.
The Blackhawks led by their core players are being challenged to go on a run and make the playoffs this year. There are 66 points available to the Blackhawks. In order to make the playoffs, they will need to capture a minimum of 42 of the 66 available points. We’re talking about the equivalent of winning 21 games out of the 33 remaining. That’s roughly two out of every three games ending up a Blackhawks victory. Is it possible? Of course, it is. Is it likely? Not based on their previous play this season.
The Blackhawks have been an underachieving team, and have lacked consistency all year. To expect them to win two out of three the rest of the way is a stretch, even for the most die-hard fan. They will be facing teams that are just as desperate as the Blackhawks. The team that wants it the most will come out on top most nights in the NHL. For the Blackhawks to make a run to the wild card they will have to improve in a lot of areas.
This topic has been beaten to death all season. How could the Chicago Blackhawks power play be the 4th worst in the league at 15.5%? Especially considering they have had the second most opportunities with 181.
The talent on this team should be in the top ten, no less. Power play success comes down to execution and will. The Blackhawks have trouble with both of these when it comes to the power play. Instead of looking to make a highlight reel pass and shot, they need to focus on getting pucks to the net. Pucks on net lead to rebounds, which lead to goals. The Blackhawks are going to need a lot better effort on the power play to make a run.
The Blackhawks are 12-10-3 at home with 16 games left on home-ice. In order to earn a playoff spot, their home ice record has to improve. Going into the All-Star break, the Blackhawks had a six-game homestand. For a team wanting to make the playoffs, going 1-4-1 at home is unacceptable. For more on the Blackhawks home ice problems check this out from
“The Blackhawks finished their six-game homestand with a 1-4-1 record, picking up three out of a possible 12 points, and are now six points behind a wild card spot.”
“It was a tough homestand when you look at it points-wise, games that were valuable situations as far as keeping us in the race and now we put ourselves in a tremendous hole,” coach Joel Quenneville said after the game.”
The Blackhawks record on the road is 11-9-4 with 17 games left. That’s a good trend for this team and it needs to continue.
The Blackhawks allow an average of 32.7 shots per game. In contrast, the Blackhawks are 2nd in the NHL averaging 34.5 shots per game. For a team that wants to play puck possession, they need to limit shots against to under 30 whenever possible. Fewer turnovers lead to more time with the puck, which leads to more shots on goal and fewer shots against.
The status of starting goalie Corey Crawford took a slight turn for the better a week before the All-Star break. Crawford returned to practice but appears a long way off from returning. Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun Times reported:
“He hasn’t played since being pulled against the Devils on Dec. 23, but Crawford is tied with Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy (who blanked the Hawks with a 40-save shutout on Monday) for the best save percentage among No. 1 goaltenders in the league, a sparkling .929. He went 16-9-2. Jeff Glass (who will start Wednesday against Toronto) and Anton Forsberg are a combined 6-9-4 with a .907 save percentage.”
While it would be extremely helpful if Crawford could return for the stretch run, everyone will have to stay tuned on this one.
Where We Are
Last year the Blackhawks had the best record in the Western Conference. After an off-season roster overhaul, they have yet to play at the elite level that is expected every season. They have sputtered along all year with several losing streaks and inconsistent play. They have had several good games thrown in every once in a while that bring hope that things are turning around for the team. These good outings are then followed by another unexplained loss where they get outplayed and outworked.
Their rabid fan base is getting nervous and on edge that their team’s glory days may be behind them. With a game against Nashville Tuesday night, that would be the perfect opportunity to show their fans what they’re made of and start a run.
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