I’ll be honest with you and admit seeing the Chicago Blackhawks looking in from the outside of playoff contention is a weird sight.
After being in the hunt or on top of the pack for many years, the Blackhawks are now minus Joel Quenneville and will not taste playoff glory again. For the first time in ten years, they will have missed April entry for two straight seasons. In fact, the last playoff win Chicago had was against the Blues in that thrilling seven game series three years ago.
Tonight, the Blues play their final road game of the 2018-19 season, before the playoffs begin next week. A tune-up in Chicago should be fun, especially if the Blues can smack the Blackhawks around. Coming off a gritty shootout win over Colorado on Monday, which followed a thrilling overtime in New Jersey on a Vince Dunn winner as he went flying Bobby Orr style through the air, the Blues would like to build some momentum before the 82 games are up.
If there is one thing in sports that can be quantified which I believe in, it’s momentum. The Blues were coming off a putrid loss at Madison Square Garden before the triumph over the Devils, so a win tonight in Chicago would be three in a row and allow them to enter the final 1-2 homestand punch against Philadelphia and Vancouver with a little gusto in their sails.
They come into tonight’s game back in third place in the Central Division, but their hopes for the top spot haven’t been dashed yet. Nashville beat Buffalo last night, which put their 96 points on top of the Blues’ 94 points. However, the Predators only have two games left, which is one less than the Blues. Each team’s ROW is at 41, but the Blues easily win the head-to-head battle.
The Blackhawks are coming off a 4-3 loss to the Winnipeg Jets, and are 4-3-3 in their last ten games. They fare slightly better at home, but overall, are simply trying to avoid embarrassment, clinging to a record of 34-33-12. After winning Cups and riding high, they are back in the also-ran section of the conference.
The key thing tonight will be stopping not only Patrick Kane but the perennial Blues killer, Alex Debrincat. As the Chicago Sun Times wrote on Monday, he’s been a bright spot in a down year. He also loves facing the Blues, so watch out for him tonight.
Overall, the goal is to win and collect points, edging closer to Nashville and Winnipeg in order to claim home ice advantage in the first round. Then again, I’d really like to beat the shit out of the Blackhawks tonight. A Vladimir Tarasenko hat trick would be nice. Since the Blues play tomorrow at home, I wouldn’t be surprised if Jake Allen started tonight.
Three games left. Can the Blues win all three and get to 100 points? We shall see.
Thanks for reading and always drink more bourbon.