Heading into the All-Star break, the Chicago Blackhawks are holding onto a playoff spot by a tread. Down the stretch they’re going to need to capitalize on every opportunity for a standings point.
They haven’t been anywhere near the dominant team that a year ago won the Stanley Cup. But they’ve shown flashes that indicate their still capable of getting to, and going fairly deep into the playoffs. The problem is that they haven’t been able to play at that level for long stretches.
They were however, able to reel off a six game stretch where they secured 11 of the 12 potential standings points. Since that six game stretch they’ve dropped games to the Philadelphia Flyers and the Minnesota Wild. Both games hurt for different reasons.
The Flyers came into the United Center on Sunday for a nationally televised game. The Blackhawks could have made a statement to the country, and the rest of the league, by knocking off the top team in the NHL. But three goals in the third period resulted in the Blackhawks losing 4-1.
Tuesday night, the Blackhawks welcomed the Wild to the United Center. The same Wild team that sits just one position, and now one point, behind the Blackhawks in the standings.
“[With] one more game before this week long break,” Blackhawks’ captain Jonathan Toews said. “In our own building, you have to find a way to generate something.”
The Blackhawks weren’t able to hold onto a 2-1 lead after the first period and ended up losing 4-2.
“That one just felt like it got away from us,” Toews said after the loss. “So yeah, it is pretty frustrating.”
The Blackhawks last two games won’t doom their season, but they’re a pretty good reflection of the way the season has gone so far. They’ve had to deal with injuries, like being without Marian Hossa on Tuesday night. They’ve had leads, only to see them be relinquished in late game and late period goals.
Last year it seemed like any lead the Blackhawks had was big enough for them to win. For them to turn around this season and make a deep run into the playoffs, they’re going to need to find that killer instinct to not only shut teams down, but put them away.