Two months ago, the Blackhawks were dead last in the league. Pretty crazy to think about, now that they’re among the list of teams gunning for a wild-card spot, isn’t it?
Having had enough of their losing ways following an eight-game skid from late November to mid-December, the Blackhawks decided to show up after a decisive 6-3 win over Pittsburgh. While it took a couple more losses and some wacky wins to get to where they are now, they’ve continued to show up, posting a record of 22-13-4 since they snapped that streak.
Now four points out of the second Western Conference wild-card spot with 10 games left –– most of which are against divisional foes –– the Blackhawks have their work cut out for them.
We’re in the season of scoreboard watching, especially within the tight wild-card race of Western Conference. Obviously, the Blackhawks’ priority should be coming home with their own two points, but these game outcomes wouldn’t hurt their chances either.
An Ottawa win over Vancouver on Wednesday would keep the Canucks at 72 points, two points under the Blackhawks. After the Blackhawks gave up that second point in the finale of the season series against Vancouver, rooting for an Ottawa win is the least we can do.
Thursday brings us a fair amount of action in the wild card race, but the three main games to watch will be Florida against Arizona, Colorado in Dallas, and Edmonton against Colorado.
With the Hawks, a game in hand of Arizona, Florida getting the win can keep the Coyotes where they are. A potential Chicago win against Philadelphia on Thursday will pull them within two points of the second wild-card spot.
Wins from Columbus and Dallas will play spoiler for the chances of Colorado and Edmonton respectively, who are also after that second wild-card spot.
How About the Hawks?
Well, they’ve got some work to do. With the exception of their game against the Los Angeles Kings on March 30th, everyone they’re facing in the upcoming final weeks of the regular season are ahead of them in the standings.
With Philly fighting for their own wild card spot, that game will prove to be interesting for both clubs, but there should be a longer look at the home-at-home against Colorado.
The Avalanche suffered a huge loss when captain Gabe Landeskog was sidelined with an upper-body injury for 4-6 weeks, but they have still managed a record of 4-5-1. They’ve been wishy-washy as of late with none of those four wins coming consecutively, but all four of them did come at home.
If the Hawks can start quick, leave very little room for error and keep it simple while they’re in Denver, they’ll be rewarded.
Any momentum they gain from potential points against Colorado will surely help them against Arizona. The Coyotes have been hot, neck-in-neck with Chicago’s own last-10 record of 6-3-1. Their loss to Tampa Bay helped the Hawks, but a win against them would help even more.
So really, the short version is this: Senators over Canucks. Panthers over Coyotes. Stars over Avalanche. Blue Jackets over Oilers.
Blackhawks versus everyone.
Buckle up, Chicago.
Follow Ria on Twitter at @Ria_Dockerty for more Blackhawks news and opinions.