With the Chicago Blackhawks playoff hopes fading away we look back to see what happened in their wild-card chase. The last time we checked on them they were five points out of the last wild-card spot with nine games remaining. The three keys to capturing a wild card spot were their red-hot goalie Corey Crawford, taking advantage of their remaining schedule, and their special teams.
We will breakdown how the Blackhawks did with these three keys during the last five games. With their playoff hopes fading away the Blackhawks have four games left in their season. We’ll review their remaining schedule and also the schedules of the other three teams vying for the last wild-card spot.
Blackhawks Playoff Hopes Fading
Of the three keys we covered for the Blackhawks playoff hopes, Crawford has been the only bright spot since returning to action from his latest concussion. Over the last five games Crawford has surrendered only 12 goals on 133 shots against. He has been incredible in net while the team in front of him has continued to struggle with coach Jeremy Colliton‘s man-on-man defence scheme. Crawford has done his best to backstop his team during their wild-card chase. Unfortunately his valiant efforts in net may not be enough to get them into the playoffs.
In addition, this off-season will be interesting, to say the least. Crawford enters into the final year of his six-year $36 million contract. Collin Delia signing his contract extension in February means he will be the backup to Crawford next season. It should be safe to say that the Cam Ward era in Chicago is over once the season ends.
Blackhawks Schedule Failure
The second key to the Blackhawks playoff hopes was how they did during their last games of the year. Over the last five games, they went 2-2-1 getting only five out of a possible ten points available. The worst part is they had chances to gain ground on the Colorado Avalanche and the Arizona Coyotes during this stretch of games. Unfortunately, they split the home-and-home series with the Avalanche getting only two points while their wild-card foe got three. They then lost to the Coyotes 1-0 in what could best be described as a brutal team loss.
But worst of all is their performance against the Los Angeles Kings this past weekend. They lost to the 30th place team in the NHL. Which means they lost to the 30th place team in the league not once but twice in March. Three huge points lost to the Kings is an example of the team’s inability to beat an inferior opponent when it matters most. Add in losses to the Coyotes, Philadelphia Flyers, and Vancouver Canucks earlier in March adds in five more huge points that would be the difference in the standings right now.
The last key we looked at was the Blackhawks specials teams. This aspect of the team is a major cause of their playoff hopes fading away in March. The power play that was on fire earlier in the year went as cold as ice while they chased a wild card spot. Over the last 15 games, the Blackhawks power play has scored four times out of 36 chances. That equates to an abysmal success rate of 11%. After charging into the top ten in the NHL with their red-hot power play they have now sunk to 12th overall.
To say the Blackhawks penalty killing unit is terrible would be an understatement. They have been dead last in the NHL pretty much all season. They currently sit at the bottom of the league with a 72.7% success rate while killing penalties.
During the last five games when it mattered most they gave up six goals while short-handed 18 times. Whether it’s the scheme, lack of effort or lack of heart the penalty killing unit has got to improve next season.
Current Wild Card Race Standings
The Dallas Stars currently hold the first wild-card spot with 89 points. The Blackhawks have zero chance of catching them because they sit 10 points behind them with four games left. That leaves the Blackhawks to contend for the last wild card spot against three other teams.
Here are the four teams still in the hunt for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference:
- Colorado Avalanche – 85 pts
- Arizona Coyotes – 84 pts
- Minnesota Wild – 81 pts
- Chicago Blackhawks – 79 pts
Potential Wild Card Teams Remaining Games
Listed below are the games left for the Blackhawks, Avalanche, Coyotes, and the Wild. We are highlighting the date, the opponent, and their record this season.
- 4/1 (home) Winnipeg Jets 45-29-4 = 94 pts*
- 4/3 (home) St Louis Blues 42-28-8 = 92 pts*
- 4/5 (home) Dallas Stars 41-31-7 = 89 pts*
- 4/6 (away) Nashville Predators 44-29-6 = 94 pts*
- 4/1 (away) St. Louis Blues 42-28-8 = 92 pts*
- 4/2 (home) Edmonton Oilers 34-35-9 = 77 pts
- 4/4 (home) Winnipeg Jets 45-29-4 = 94 pts*
- 4/6 (away) San Jose Sharks 44-26-9 = 97 pts*
- 4/2 (home) Los Angeles Kings 29-40-9 = 67 pts
- 4/4 (away) Vegas Golden Knights 42-30-7 = 91 pts*
- 4/6 (home) Winnipeg Jets 45-29-4 = 94 pts*
- 4/2 (home) Winnipeg Jets 45-29-4 = 94 pts*
- 4/4 (home) Boston Bruins 47-23-9 = 103 pts*
- 4/6 (away) Dallas Stars 41-31-7 = 89 pts*
(*Denotes Currently In Playoffs)
Blackhawks Slim Chances
In looking at the remaining games for the Blackhawks their chances for a wild card spot are at slim to none. Even if they win out they can only top out at 87 points on the year. Colorado only needs three points to eliminate the Blackhawks from a wild card spot. The interesting team to watch is the Coyotes. They appear to have an easier schedule than the Avalanche but will have to win out to jump over them and into the final wild-card spot. The race for the wild card will come down to the last games on Saturday night for sure.
Last Word On The Blackhawks Playoff Hopes Fading Away
The last week of the Blackhawks season will be bittersweet, to say the least. At some point this week the team will probably be eliminated from playoff contention. That will make two straight seasons with no playoffs for the storied franchise. Blackhawks management will certainly have a lot of explaining to do to their fan base. It will be interesting to see if any changes in management are made going forward. Will general manager Stan Bowman get another off-season to rebuild the team? Based on his last three off-seasons he really shouldn’t, but probably will.
The teams last Stanley Cup in 2015 seems like decades away now for many of the Blackhawk faithful. They deserve answers from the Blackhawks brass as to why this team has fallen so far so fast. To say it’s going to be another long summer in Chicago may be contrite, but it’s a fact.