As the 2nd half begins, the Blackhawks have some work to do to get in the playoffs
CHICAGO – During this current run under Joel Quenneville, the playoffs are almost an afterthought for the Blackhawks. It’s just something fans assume will feature the team once April rolls around.
Only one year, 2011, was the team in real danger of missing the postseason. But they managed to sneak in the playoffs and even gave top seeded Vancouver a fight in the first round before losing in seven games.
All of the other years, getting into the postseason hasn’t been the main concern. Seeding and home ice were the focus of the Quenneville teams hoping for a deep run into the early summer.
But as the Blackhawks reach the halfway point of the 2017-2018 season, they do so with a little more work to do that in past years. In fact, it looks like this battle for a playoff spot could last for the better part of three months into the new year.
Through 41 games the Blackhawks are 20-15-6 on the season with 46 points, as they currently are on the outside looking in at the playoff race. It’s not too much of a gap, as they sit behind the surprising Avalanche who have 47 points and, at the moment, have the last Wild Card spot in the Western Conference thanks to tie-breakers over the Wild and the Ducks.
As far as getting into their division race goes, Quenneville’s team has even more work to do. Another surprise team, the Winnipeg Jets, leads the central with 57 points with the Blackhawks sitting in last place at the moment. As far as defending their top spot in the West which they got last regular season, there’s even more work to do as the incredible expansion Vegas Golden Knight continue to lead with 60 points.
Again, there are 41 games left to go before fans have to worry about the team not making the playoffs for the first time in ten seasons, but it’s safe to say they are off the pace as they start the second half in Ottawa on Tuesday night.
The 46 point total is easily the lowest over the past five years for the Blackhawks, and seven points off the pace of their 2016-2017 season. Each of the last four years the Blackhawks had at least 52 points with a high of 61 coming in the 2013-2014 season as defending Stanley Cup Champions.
Maybe that’s why Quenneville is shaking things up a bit for the game against the Senators tonight as veteran defenseman Brent Seabrook is a rare healthy scratch for the game. While certainly not time to panic, it’s safe to say the Blackhawks need to play a bit better and the come down the backstretch of the 2017-2018 season.