Well, there may still be a month-and-a-half left in the regular season, but it’s time to keep an eye on the Central Division scoreboard, because the Chicago Blackhawks just lost hold of a playoff spot they’ve held onto for … quite a while, again.
This final stretch of the season will be a constant back and forth of interchanging of playoff positions with four teams separated by just six points and vying for one final playoff spot.
Central Division Standings:
1. Tampa Bay Lightning (24-8-2) – 50 points
2. Carolina Hurricanes (23-7-3) – 49 points
3. Florida Panthers (22-9-4) – 48 points
4. Nashville Predators (18-17-1) – 37 points
5. Chicago Blackhawks (16-15-5) – 37 points
6. Columbus Blue Jackets (13-15-8) – 34 points
7. Dallas Stars (11-12-9) – 31 points
8. Detroit Red Wings (12-20-4) – 28 points
With the back-to-back regulation losses this weekend, Chicago falls from fourth-place to fifth-place in the Central Division and the Predators leapfrog them into fourth-place. Both teams are tied with 37 points in the standings, with Nashville holding the tiebreaker over Chicago based on regulation wins.
The Blackhawks had built a ton of momentum heading into this weekend after getting a two-game sweep over the Florida Panthers, their first two wins over Florida this season. But that was wiped away after being swept by the Predators and squandering favorable results from around the Division over the weekend: the Red Wings got a two-game sweep over the Blue Jackets and the Panthers took two games over the Stars.
"…We've gotten away from that a little bit and that's why we're struggling right now."
— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) March 29, 2021
Chicago’s goal this season changed quickly once they got the first win of the season back in January. It looked like this season would be chalked up to a rebuild year and getting into the top five of the NHL Draft. Now, they’re in the thick of it in the playoff hunt and are not planning on falling out of the chase now. At least that is the hope.
The Blackhawks’ next two games come against the Carolina Hurricanes, but following that two-game series, will have their next ten games all against the teams that are vying for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division. This stretch of the schedule in April is critical to gain as many points as possible over these teams because when the end of the month rolls around, and heads into May, Chicago has six of their last eight games of the season against the Lightning, Panthers, and Hurricanes.
Hold onto your butts.