Critical road trip a struggle so far for the Blackhawks

VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 12: Elias Pettersson #40 of the Vancouver Canucks takes a shot on Corey Crawford #50 of the Chicago Blackhawks during their NHL game at Rogers Arena February 12, 2020 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Vancouver won 3-0. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

CALGARY – Over the next few weeks the goals of a season will be decided.

The NHL Trade Deadline is on February 24th, and it’s at that time which Stan Bowman has to decide if his Blackhawks’ team has the ability to make a run at the postseason. If they’re still in it, he could decide to pull the trigger on a trade to improve the team, though most likely he’d stay put. Should the team slip out of contention, Bowman could choose to look to the future and perhaps unload a regular for picks or younger players.

All of these are on the table for the team as they stare down the five games which they’ll play between now and their February 24th deadline, and right now the team is making a case for Bowman’s second option.

After a strong road record all year long, the Blackhawks have dropped the first three of a five-game road trip against Western Conference that continues a long month mostly away from the United Center. The team had poor finishes against the Jets and the Oilers, blowing leads in both games before running into a hot goaltender on Wednesday night in Vancouver.

Despite firing 49 shots on goal, the Blackhawks couldn’t beat Jacob Markstrom once in a 3-0 loss that continues to hurt their pursuit of a playoff spot.

With 25 games to go, Jeremy Colliton’s team sits six points behind the Coyotes for the last playoff spot, with the Jets, Predators, and Wild all sitting ahead of them in pursuit of the playoffs. Calgary holds the first Wild Card position, eight points ahead of the Blackhawks, as they prepare to host them on Saturday night before they finish their trip in Winnipeg Sunday.

Wins in those contests and the feeling for the postseason chase could turn more positive, especially with a pair of home games next week. But if the defeats continue, Bowman’s going to have some things to think about.

 

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