With the most important game of the Blackhawks regular season about 24 hours away at the time of this writing, it seems silly to look back. Sure, yesterday night’s game was the most important of this season at the time, but given that the Hawks have put themselves into the precarious position of fighting for the eighth playoff spot during the last weekend of the regular season, it really doesn’t matter anymore.
In fact, to the Detroit Red Wings, last night didn’t even matter last night. Give credit to the Hawks, who kicked the hell out of a team asking for it, but drawing any other conclusions from this game would be silly – not after the inconsistency we’ve been witness to since October. I suppose we can be hopeful that Ben Smith will continue to show himself to be a useful player, but counting on rookies to play big roles down the stretch can be detrimental to your health.
So, let’s look forward. In case you haven’t heard, with points at such a premium, the Hawks still care about Nashville, Phoenix, LA, Anaheim and Dallas. All but Dallas play this evening, with the Preds playing the Blues in St.Louis; the ‘Yotes in San Jose late; and the Kings and Ducks finishing off their home-and-home tonight. The Stars play tomorrow evening in Minnesota (where Martin Havlat has to be seriously considering giving an Eff You to Mr. McD and the boys), but if the Hawks gather a point tomorrow morning, the Stars will have nothing to play for (other than for the services of Brad Richards during the summer).
With wins by the Blues, Sharks and Kings, the Hawks have a chance to jump to fifth to play the would-be fourth-seeded Kings. Of course, with a Hawks loss tomorrow morning and a Stars win tomorrow evening, the Hawks might also end up on the outside looking in at ninth. At this point, with Anje Kopitar out, the former is probably the best-case scenario, and obviously, the latter is the worst.
Frankly, anything that puts the Hawks in something other than eighth or ninth place should be considered a victory. Ain’t nobody want to face those damn Canucks in the first round. As a wise man once said, hold on to your butts.