As the Blackhawks ride an eight game winning steak, and have earned at least a point in 12 of the last 13 the y have started to pull away from the blob at the bottom of the West standings. Jonathan Toews is asserting himself as a Hart Trophy candidate and Corey Crawford is starting to get some Calder consideration. Post season individual awards are nice, but that isn’t the type of greedy I’m talking about. This team is finally starting to look like many people thought it would. There is still too much top end talent for the Blackhawks not to simply out class several NHL teams. They now have 80 points in the standings and have pulled five points ahead of the eighth seed; they are also only six points behind Detroit for the Central crown.
Sure, there is no way the Blackhawks can keep up this pace, they’ll have to lose again at some point. Next up on the schedule is Florida and after their trade deadline sell off, the Hawks should push the streak to nine. After that is the faltering Lightning now riding a three game losing streak and then after three days rest the Capitals. Four out of the next six points should be had if not all six. After that stretch there will be 13 games remaining, a rematch with Florida, Columbus, and St. Louis should all be wins, that get the Blackhawks to 90 points. Dallas, Phoenix, and Anaheim should provide another four or five points, which should be good enough to pace the Red Wings.
Of course pacing the Wings, while six points behind them isn’t enough. The six remaining games on the schedule will make the difference between catching the Wings or ending up the fourth or fifth seed in the West. Three of the games are against Detroit, so obviously they will go a long way towards catching the Wings. The Hawks are already 2-1-0 against the Wings on the season, so a 1-1-1 record against them over the last three will give the Hawks the tie-breaker but may not be enough to catch them. The other games are against Eastern Conference playoff teams, Boston, Tampa, and Montreal. All three games will be difficult, but three points is a must, four points should allow the Hawks to lose one of the games to Detroit and still catch them.
Even if the Blackhawks fail to catch the Red Wings with sixteen games remaining and 80 points locked up 100 points should be expected. Those 100 points should be enough to get the Blackhawks home ice advantage in the first round, and depending on who advances the second round as well. Its time for the Hawks and their fans to get greedy and keep rolling off the victories.