The first line will also be shorthanded on Thursday, as Marian Hossa will miss another game with a lower body injury. Hossa has been skating, according to Quenneville, but wasn’t quite ready to go for the critical showdown with the Blues.
That spot is crucial, because it allows the Hawks to stay within the Central Division for at least the first two rounds of the postseason. If they slip into fourth, then they would play the division winner with the second-best record, bringing teams like the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks into play as potential first round opponents.
Fortunately for the Blackhawks, their final seven games are an easier road than Nashville will have to navigate. The Hawks do have four road games left, but they also only have to play three more games against teams that are still in the playoff hunt (at Wild, vs. Bruins, vs. Blues). The Predators, on the other hand, have two games remaining against Dallas, a road game against the Penguins, and a home date against the Sharks on their schedule.
As it stands right now, the Blackhawks would hit the road in the first round of the playoffs to take on the St. Louis Blues in the first round. The Blues are currently in a first-place tie with the Dallas Stars, with each team registering 99 points so far on the year, and whichever team gets to the top of the divisional standings will likely get the top overall seed in the Western Conference, meaning that they’ll get the second-place wild card team (likely the Minnesota Wild).
The Blackhawks are currently six points back of both the Stars and Blues, and with only seven games remaining in the regular season, it seems unlikely that they will be able to overtake both teams for the top spot. They do have one game remaining against St. Louis during the regular season, but even that may not be enough for them to close the gap.
Chicago will transform to the center of the football universe very soon. On Tuesday, leaders from the NFL and the city offered a preview of what to expect when the draft comes to town.
The Chicago Blackhawks are trying desperately to fend off the Nashville Predators in the Central Division standings, and they helped their cause on Saturday night with a 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames.
Peter O’Reilly, the NFL’s senior vice president of events, said this year the league will add even more.