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Blackhawks Secure Playoff Spot: A Look At The Path Towards The Cup

By Jim Bochnowski in News on Apr 3, 2015 6:05PM

Jonathan Toews celebrates a third period goal against the Los Angeles Kings during last year's 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Last night, the Blackhawks officially clinched a playoff spot, defeating the Vancouver Canucks 3 to 1. This secured the Blackhawks' seventh straight trip to the playoffs, a feat that would have been unthinkable to many in Chicago years ago. However, given the Blackhawks' more recent success (two Stanley Cup championships and two conference finals), making the playoffs is now simply a precursor to the real action.

For a team that was supposed to be among the top teams in the league and were listed as one of the preseason favorites for the Stanley Cup, the Blackhawks have been marred by inconsistency this year. Despite leading the NHL Western Conference in goal differential (a very simple statistic that asks "how many goals have you scored compared to the number of goals given up?") and having five starters in the NHL All Star Game, the team woke up in fourth place in the conference this morning. The Blackhawks are also missing one of their best players, Patrick Kane, who broke his collarbone in February and will not return until the playoffs.

The good news, however, is that the team has a manageable road to a better seed in the playoffs, which start April 15. Tonight, the Blackhawks travel to Buffalo to take on the Sabers, who, as Second City Hockey points out, have been actively cheering for their team to lose in order to secure the first pick in the upcoming NHL draft. The Hawks then have a game in Chicago against St. Louis, which sits directly ahead of Chicago in the standings, then Minnesota, which is directly behind them. They'll travel to St. Louis and finally finish the season in Colorado against the worst team in the Blackhawks' conference.

As has always been the case in recent years, this team certainly has the talent and coaching to reach the Stanley Cup. The only question now is whether or not they can play their way into an easy road back to the finals and bring home Lord Stanley.