The Chicago Blackhawks are clinging to hope.
But hope is fading fast.
The Blackhawks are now seven points out of a playoffs spot, courtesy of their 3-2 regulation loss to the Calgary Flames last night. The Hawks have now dropped three straight games and have dropped five consecutive games at home. Coupled with wins by the Minnesota Wild, Colorado Avalanche and the Anaheim Ducks last night, the Hawks’ playoff hopes are dwindling as the losses keep piling.
The Hawks started the scoring early in the first, with Alex DeBrincat cashing in on the power play. The Flames answered early in the second frame, when a broken play by the Hawks led to a Douche Hamilton goal.
The Hawks seemed to have regained the lead in the second, when a scramble in front of Mike Smith’s net ended up with Ryan Hartman deflecting a puck in with his skate. After deciding that it was a good goal and there was “no distinct kicking motion” leading to the puck entering the net, the goal was negated by the war room in Toronto due to “goalie interference”. While video shows that Flames defenseman TJ Brodie actually pushed Hartman into Smith, the decision still stood, and Hartman’s goal was called off.
The Flames got the go ahead goal 16:30 into the 3rd frame. A wrist shot by Michael Stone went in past Jeff Glass. Glass immediately called for a review, since it looked like the goal was tipped in by Johnny Gaudreau with a high stick. Gaudreau himself was seen celebrating on the ice, seemingly pleased with the fact that he succeasfully deflected the goal in. A quick 30 second review by Toronto deemed that the goal was not deflected by Gaudreau’s high stick, making it a good goal. Sean Monahan scored an empty net goal with two minutes left in the third. Patrick Kane cut the lead by one with 5.1 seconds left in regulation time, but it was too little too late.
After the game, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was asked about his team’s quickly-dimming chance of making it to the dance. “There’s no doubt the pressure is mounting, as I just mentioned. I think as you get closer and closer towards the end of the season I think you realize your opportunities are numbered. We just got to do what we can and focus on the next game.”
Some at Twitter dismissed this answer as yet another canned response by a team grasping for answers. Some are declaring it as Toews recognizing the writing on the wall, that he knows that the season has gotten away from them.
The Blackhawks will have to at least go 20-7-2 in their last 29 games in order to finish with 98 points and have a 78.5% chance of finishing as an 8th seed in the West. The play the Dallas Stars and the Minnesota Wild this week, two four-point games that the Blackhawks desperately need to win in order to keep the hope alive.