ST. PAUL, MN. – It might have only been a point, but it meant so much to them on Saturday night.
Thanks to great efforts with the puck by Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane and the ability of Corey Crawford to stop them in a shootout, the Blackhawks were able to get two points instead of one against the Coyotes in Glendale Saturday night. It pulled them within three points of Arizona for the last Wild Card spot in the Western Conference, putting Jeremy Colliton’s team in a familiar position as they stare down the final 30 games of their season.
Just as they did in 2018 and 2019, the Blackhawks will need a strong finish to make the postseason, which they’re in danger of missing for the third year-in-a-row. They’ll have a competition to get that, not only from the Flames (60 points) and Coyotes (59) who are ahead of them, but with the Jets (56), Predators (55), and Wild (52) who they are also fighting to get in the postseason.
The good news is the Blackhawks are in a much better position than they were the last two seasons, both of which ended with the team on the outside looking in at the playoffs. Last season the Blackhawks had just 43 points through 50 games, sitting with a 17-24-9 record before they had a strong finish to the year to end 36-34-12. In 2017-2018, the team was at 55 points through 50 games before the bottom dropped out, with the team finishing with just 21 points the rest of the season.
Picking up ground this month will be a challenge since the team will have to play nine of their 12 games on the road, starting with the Wild Tuesday night in St. Paul. After a game at home against the Bruins on Wednesday, the Blackhawks won’t be home till the 19th as they embark on a five-game Canada road trip where they’ll face Winnipeg twice along with the Oilers, Canucks, and Flames. After a brief two-game homestand, the team will complete the month with a four-game road trip that includes a stop at Western Conference-leading St. Louis on February 25th.
Points for all those games will be at a premium in a tight race for the postseason, which is one the Blackhawks are eager to get back in after a three-year drought.