CHICAGO – If you had hoped that the spring would be full of playoff hockey in the Windy City in 2020, those hopes have taken a hit the past two weeks. Should the team not be able to get things together in the next two games, the Blackhawks hope to make the postseason might get taken away all together.
Having lost seven of their last eight games and only getting four total points in that time, the team is now eight points out of the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference with 22 games to play. There are three other teams chasing that place in the standings that are ahead of them. including the Predators, who they’ll host at the United Center on Friday night.
Should the Blackhawks lost that game and the one on Sunday to the Stars on the road, it’s hard to think that general manager Stan Bowman wouldn’t pull the trigger on a trade or two to help the team’s future at the expense of the present. At that point, who could blame him, for the odds of ending the team’s playoff drought go down with each loss.
So is that deadline, which creeps closer by the hour, wear on the Blackhawks as the Monday deadline looms?
“You try to let it go as much as possible,” said forward Alex DeBrincat of the trade deadline along with possible deals. “For us in here, there’s not much we can do at this point. We’re just trying to go out there and win games and whatever happens, happens. They have a plan, they know what they’re doing,”
While that’s being determined by Bowman and his staff, the Blackhawks are trying to keep any hopes for the postseason alive during a difficult stretch. Jeremy Colliton is trying different strategies to see if it will work, including one on Thursday morning, where the team wasn’t put through the paces on the ice following a bad finish in a loss to the Rangers.
Instead, Colliton had the team come in for a morning film session to get more of an idea of what he and the staff expect from the group the final 22 games.
“We want to be very precise as far as the message we want to send, and I think we did that,” said Colliton of the film session. “Now it’s about bringing energy and translating that sharpness into how we play, and I think that will be the focus.”
It would be good if it would arrive quickly since the team has only one more home game this month before embarking on a four-game road trip next week. Unlike February, the Blackhawks will be at home most of the month of March, but if the struggle the next few games, those contests could be more for pride than standing.
“There’s plenty of time left in the year, we just need to go on a run here,” said DeBrincat, but is that faith being tested inside the Blackhawks’ own locker room?
Colliton was asked directly if the mood of the team has been affected negatively by the recent losing ways of the group, and the coach acknowledged that it’s up to the team to change that narrative among themselves.
“We’ve got to create our own optimism by how we play” said Colliton. “Obviously the feeling in the group is not as good because our performance was not good enough last game. Obviously, you look at the standings and no one feels good about it but the way to bring good feelings back is by being really good tonight for 60 minutes.”
The sooner the better, because time is ticking in more ways than one for this Blackhawks’ team.