After that fun hot-streak by the Blackhawks, the team has lost three out of their last four. Going into their home stand against the Avalanche and Stars they were creeping their way towards a playoff spot and needed to win both to stay alive. After losing both, plus their loss to San Jose the other night, the Blackhawks dreams of the playoffs are all but gone. Even after bringing back star goaltender Corey Crawford.
While technically not eliminated yet, their current odds to make the playoffs are 1.7% according to hockey-reference and 0.9% according to sportsclubstats.com. To put that in perspective, the Blackhawks will have to win out to make the playoffs or go roughly 14-1-1 and get a little help with other teams ahead of them losing. Unless an absolute unthinkable miracle happens, sadly it looks like no playoff hockey at the United Center for the second-straight season.
So what now? There are 16 games and the focus of the front office is going to be on the offseason and future. They did not do anything at the deadline, but many expect there to be a number of moves made this summer. They will have cap space to work with and guys like Artem Anisimov could very well be on the trade block. As for the team itself, they will play hard and hope to finish strong. Fans may not like it as much as they would want to “tank” the rest of the way which is understandable to a point, but the core of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat and Brandon Saad is not going to just phone it in.
Those guys have at least given the Blackhawks fans this year entertainment and a reason to watch. Kane has reached the 40 goal mark and is six points from the century mark. Toews is having a great year on pace to score mid-30s goals and the young phenom DeBrincat is four goals shy of the 40 mark. Also have to credit Saad for his bounce-back year and has put up typical Saad numbers.
Question is, do the Blackhawks call up some of the Rockford kids and let them play? Mainly talking Henri Jokiharju and Colin Delia. There may be only 16 games left and not much experienced gained in the grand scheme of things, but they have really nothing left to prove in Rockford. Delia had an impressive run for a while in the NHL level before struggling near the deadline. He has shown promise but clearly has work to do on rebounds and giving up soft goals after making great saves. Getting work in against NHL players may help him build some confidence back. With nothing to lose, I say let the kids play.
Their final stretch of games is against a lot of good playoff teams, so it may not be a necessarily pretty ending. However they can still be worth watching with Kane chasing 100+ points, Toews looking for a career-high in goals and how DeBrincat finishes. If Delia and/or Jokiharju does return to the NHL level, keep an eye on them as well.