CHICAGO – Nothing is normal about this season, hence it’s not been the best one for those who’ve rooted for the Blackhawks the last decade.
Barring a miracle – and that’s no hyperbole – the team would need to go on a historic run just to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That was taken for granted by most fans who were thinking more about June rather than April when it came to goals for a season. But sitting 13 points behind the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference with 22 games to play has made this Spring a bit anticlimactic.
“We’re in the NHL, we’re hockey players, we’re playing for pride. At the same time, you never know if you can get on a run,” said Patrick Kane when discussing tonight’s game against the Senators at the United Center. “That’s our game plan right now – win one and see what happens after that.”
It’s about all the team can say as they face the reality of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008 – when Kane was a rookie. Looking for reasons for the defeats will be part of the team’s immediate evaluations before the NHL’s trade deadline at the end of February and then through a very long offseason.
But one thing they’ll have to figure out is the one really surprising thing about the 2017-2018 season – bad play at the United Center.
Always in front of a sold out crowd, the Blackhawks are 13-14-3 at home this season in a stunning reversal of fortune during the Quenneville era. It’s been even worse for the team in 2018 where they have just three victories at the United Center – and only one of those has come since January 12th.
Right now the team’s 14 defeats on home ice are more than all but one of the last ten years for the tea, where they’ve been easily over .500 most of the teams. Only in the lockout-shortened campaign of 2012-2013 have the Blackhawks not reached the 20 win mark at the United Center.
Here are the team’s home records during the Quenneville era.
2008-2009 – 24-9-8
2009-2010 – 29-8-4
2010-2011 – 24-17-0
2011-2012 – 27-8-6
2012-2013 – 18-3-3
2013-2014 – 27-7-7
2014-2015 – 24-12-5
2015-2016 – 26-11-4
2016-2017 – 26-10-5
There are still 11 regular season home games remaining for the Blackhawks, giving them ample opportunity to finish the home season with an above .500 record. Getting to 20 wins again on the United Center ice would take quite a run, just like it would be making the playoffs during what looks like a lost season.