If the Chicago Blackhawks want to make a big run in the final 15 games of the season, they’ll have their work more than cut out for them. Even after an impressive win against the Detroit Red Wings, the Hawks have a few roadblocks in their way.
The Hawks will travel to Pennsylvania to take on 2010 Stanley Cup Final foe Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday. The Flyers have a two-game winning streak, led by top scorer Claude Giroux. The Flyers are especially dangerous because they just swept a home-and-home series against their archrival Pittsburgh Penguins (a team the Hawks beat on March 1).
Assuming they make the playoffs, the Flyers could be a threat out in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks should not underestimate them at all, especially since they’re making a run for the playoffs.
After that, the Hawks have a home game against the dreaded St. Louis Blues for a Wednesday Night rivalry matchup. It cannot be overstated how badly the Hawks have done in the Central Division this year, and with the Blues on a tear and leading the division, Western Conference and NHL, the Hawks have their work cut out for them.
And it gets better! Brandon Saad is out with an upper-body injury, which depletes the Hawks’ offense again after losing Marian Hossa for a couple weeks.
In order for the Hawks to win, they’ll have to play their best hockey all month. Neither team will sit down and let the Hawks roll over them. They’ve been talking about urgency and playing their best hockey, but it’s time to turn action into words. The Flyers and Blue play tough, physical styles of hockey. That means the Hawks will have to use their strength — their speed and quickness — to beat the Blues and Flyers.
It doesn’t get any easier after that. Next week, they travel to Boston to take on a Boston Bruins team and crowd thirsty for vengeance after the 17-seconds game. Still, there are hopes that a certain Finnish product will show up.
The Hawks have an opportunity to prove themselves in the coming games. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and the lot will have to step up. Head coach Joel Quenneville may have gotten the message through that they haven’t been playing as well as they should, but they’ll need to show they’ve gotten it. If they don’t, don’t expect a Stanley Cup repeat.