Written by Andy Dunk
The Blackhawks unpredictable season almost came to a premature end last night after the Blackhawk’s heart-breaking home loss to the Red Wings. On Sunday night, the Blackhawks found themselves in control of their own destiny.
A win or an overtime loss, and they would find themselves with a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs. With two points, the Blackhawks could have grabbed as high as the five seed in the tightly-packed West. With a loss, the Hawks would need a Dallas Stars loss or shootout win (the hockey playoff tiebreak rewards teams for regulation and overtime wins) to clinch a spot.
After dismantling the Red Wings by three goals in Detroit , the Blackhawks returned home looking to take care of business. The Blackhawks could not hold and early 1-0 lead and found themselves trailing in the third period. With a late power-play and a last minute furry with six attackers, the Hawks fought for their playoff lives but came up just short. The team knew what they needed to do, but failed.
With a Blackhawks loss, all Dallas needed was to win and they’d be in. Fearing the worst, many Hawks fans tuned in to Minnesota Wild game hoping for a little help. Tied at three in the third, the Wild scored on a beautifully executed play and took the lead. As time winded down, the pressure mounted but the Wild hung on clinching the eighth seed for the Blackhawks.
With the eighth seed comes a familiar foe for this year’s squad. This year the Blackhawks will not have the luxury of having home ice advantage and must pull some upsets if they hope to defend their title. Their first match-up is a team that’s hoping that the third time’s a charm. The Hawks will open this year’s playoffs in Vancouver where they will face a Canuck team that has lost to the Blackhawks in the playoffs each of the past two seasons. Led this year by twins, Henrik and Daniel Sedin, and in goal by Roberto Luongo, the Canucks compiled the NHL’s best record with 117 points.
This is a brutal match-up for the Blackhawks as the Canucks led the NHL in goals scored and goals against this year. With a balanced attack and stingy defense, the Blackhawks will need to play error free hockey and catch a few breaks if they hope to advance.