Blackhawks on the brink of playoff elimination Tuesday night

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 18: Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville looks on during the game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the St. Louis Blues on March 18, 2018, at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

CHICAGO – Since late February, this day was coming. At first, there was denial and then eventually acceptance for the fate of a team so accustomed to spending their Springs on the ice.

On Tuesday, the team’s season could be officially on ice should they not find a way to win.

Going into tonight’s game with the Avalanche, the Blackhawks have 69 points with nine games remaining in the season. Right now the last playoff spot in the Western Conference has 86 points, and with just 18 possible points for the Blackhawks to get, a loss to Colorado tonight would knock them out of playoff contention.

With their “Tragic Number” sitting at one, the team must win tonight to keep their playoff hopes alive.

It’s not going to be a truly shocking moment, since the Blackhawks have realistically been out of the playoffs for the past month. Yet it does signal the end of an era since the team has made the postseason for the last ten years. In that run, which has been entirely under head coach Joel Quenneville, the team has won three Stanley Cups and advanced to the Western Conference Finals two other times.

To find the last time that the Blackhawks didn’t make the playoffs you have to go back to the 2007-2008 season. The first campaign for Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews and the last for Denis Savard as head coach, the Blackhawks finished with a 40-34-8 record and missed the playoffs by three points.

That was part of a stretch of five-consecutive playoff-less seasons for the team who at that point hadn’t won a Stanley Cup since 1961. The ten-year playoff streak is tie for the second-longest in franchise history with a stretch from 1959-1968. The record streak is 28-straight years which came between 1969 and 1997.