The Chicago Blackhawks three keys to capturing a wild card playoff spot are Corey Crawford, their schedule, and their special teams. These Blackhawks three keys will all play a part in their success or failure the rest of the season.
Since we last looked in on the Blackhawks wild card chase, they still find themselves five points out of the playoffs. In their last four games, they went 2-1-1, which at first glance looks good. However, looking at their last two games games against the Vancouver Canucks and the Philadelphia Flyers, we find the reason why they cannot gain any ground. They only captured one out of a possible four points against these non-playoff teams. The additional two or three points added would have been a huge help in the chase.
Chicago Blackhawks Three Keys
Since returning from his second stint on injured reserve, Crawford is a man on a mission. He has raised his level of play to a new high for his team. Three games ago, Crawford stood on his head in his home town of Montreal. He shut out the Montreal Canadiens with the performance of the season in a 2-0 shutout. For more on his play that game, check this out from sportsnet.ca :
“Saturday’s contest was a battle of goaltenders, with Crawford getting the better of his counterpart Carey Price, who stopped 22-of-24 shots in defeat.”
“Crawford needed to be on his game, with Montreal generating high-quality scoring chances in close all night long.”
The Blackhawks netminder won that game against Montreal in what is known as a “goalie win” in hockey. His team got out-played and outshot 48-24. Crawford’s performance in goal could also be described as an effort by the “Maytag Repairman” also known as “The Loneliest Man In The World” for often having no help in his own zone at times. All kidding aside, Jeremy Colliton‘s man-on-man defence scheme leaves the Blackhawks goalies on their own way too much. Thankfully, Crawford has played extremely well despite the defensive lapses in front of him. The Blackhawks three keys start with their goalie continuing his stellar efforts in goal. Without that the team will not achieve their goal of a playoff spot.
Listed below are the nine games on the Blackhawks remaining schedule. We are highlighting the date, the opponent, their record this season, and the Blackhawks record against each team this year.
This weekend’s home and home series against the Colorado Avalanche has been circled on the calendar since the Blackhawks started their run back in February. To say this is the biggest home-and-home series of the season is an understatement. How they do will set the tone for the remaining games and will make or break their season. The Blackhawks need a minimum of three points this weekend to make up some ground. They trail the Avalanche by four points and must leap frog them in the standings to get close to the Minnesota Wild, who hold the last wild card spot. They also play the Arizona Coyotes on March 26 in another must-win game. Taking five out of six available points in the next three games will give them a huge lift before playing the rest of their schedule which includes five playoff qualifying teams.
- 3/23 (away) Colorado Avalanche 33-29-12 = 78 pts 2-1-0
- 3/24 (home) Colorado Avalanche 33-29-12 = 78 pts 2-1-0
- 3/26 (away) Arizona Coyotes 36-32-6 = 78 pts 1-1-0
- 3/28 (away) San Jose Sharks 43-23-9 = 95 pts* 0-2-0
- 3/30 (away) Los Angeles Kings 26-39-8 = 60 pts 0-1-1
- 4/1 (home) Winnipeg Jets 44-26-4 = 92 pts* 0-2-1
- 4/3 (home) St Louis Blues 39-27-8 = 86 pts* 3-1-0
- 4/5 (home) Dallas Stars 38-30-6 = 82 pts* 2-1-0
- 4/6 (away) Nashville Predators 42-27-6 = 90 pts* 1-1-1
(*Denotes Currently In Playoffs)
The last of the Blackhawks three keys to a playoff spot is special teams. The team was on a roll with the power play and then in the last ten games has cooled off dramatically. Their “powerless” power play is hurting their chances to win close games. Surprisingly the team who was unstoppable on the power play went 2-for-25 over the last ten games. They have too much talent to not succeed with the man advantage and must focus on their effort versus looking pretty with the puck. It’s time to get dirty and greasy while throwing every possible shot at the net and chasing for rebounds. The Blackhawks power play has the ability to win games and must be more productive for them to be successful.
In regards to the Blackhawks insufferable penalty killing unit, they are still worst in the NHL at 73.3%. Over the next nine games they have got to find a way to improve or they will fail in their chase. Maybe the Blackhawks coaches can show the defence some highlights from when Niklas Hjalmarsson played for the team. He was the ultimate defence warrior, especially on the penalty killing unit. They will need his type of effort from here on out if they hope to get into the playoffs.
Blackhawks Three Keys Wrap Up
The season-long struggles for this team have been difficult to watch. Their 82 game season is now down to the last 9 games. If they can win seven or eight of their remaining games, they may have a shot to squeak into the playoffs. They will of course need a lot of help from the teams they are chasing too. If any of them go into a slump it just might open the door for the Blackhawks. The Blackhawk players will hopefully focus on the game at hand and leave the scoreboard watching to the their faithful fans who will be sitting with fingers crossed.
CHICAGO, IL – MARCH 11: Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford (50) celebrates with center Jonathan Toews (19) during a game between the Arizona Coyotes and the Chicago Blackhawks on March 11, 2019, at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)