The Blackhawks have just six games remaining in the regular season, and sit just three points behind the San Jose Sharks for the top spot in the Western Conference with a game in-hand. But looking at the schedule, the Blackhawks could alter the Western Conference playoff race from top to bottom before the regular season ends.
Looking at the bottom of the current Western Conference standings, the Calgary Flames have valiantly kept themselves in a relevant ninth position just two points behind the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs have a game in-hand, but that might not be a good thing; Colorado has lost three straight and is 4-5-1 in their last ten. Calgary, meanwhile, is trending the opposite direction. Depite being only 5-5-0 in their last ten, the Flames have won their last two to pull within two points of the final playoff spot.
On Sunday, the Flames visit the United Center in a potential first-round preview, or a game that could effectively kill Calgary’s hopes for the postseason.
Then, on Fri. April 9, the Blackhawks travel to Colorado for another critical matchup that could serve as both a scouting opportunity as well as a back-breaking game for the Avalanche.
Of course, the Blackhawks would need to win both games to have a shot at playing the eighth seed in the West. Another game that could have enormous postseason implications is the final game of the regular season, on April 11 in Chicago.
On the final day of the regular season, the Blackhawks host the Detroit Red Wings. When the Olympics ended, this game looked like it could hold the potential for the Hawks to claim the top spot in the West and potentially keep Detroit out of the playoffs. However, Detroit is 9-0-1 in their last ten and are now sitting comfortably in the sixth spot in the West, just two points behind the Nashville Predators for the fifth position.
In these three games, the Blackhawks could dramatically impact the entire Western Conference race. If the Red Wings end the season as the sixth seed, they would draw the Vancouver Canucks in what could become an epic first round series. Similarly, if the Preds end the season ahead of Detroit in fifth, their first round series with the Coyotes would be a matchup of two of the hottest teams in the NHL.
The team the Blackhawks are chasing for the top seed in the West, the San Jose Sharks, have perhaps the hardest five-game stretch in the NHL to close their season. They will play at Minnesota Friday before travelling to Colorado and Calgary; both of those games carry the same enormous postseason implications for all three of the involved teams as when the Avs and Flames play the Blackhawks. The Sharks then conclude their season with home games against the Vancouver Canucks and Phoenix Coyotes.