As of Friday the NHL, and the NHL Players Association have agreed on a 24-team playoff format if the 2019/2020 season does resume in the next couple months. The format, which is getting a lot of praise around the league is an interesting one, but more so exciting.
The way the playoffs format is structured is that the top four teams of each conference gets a bye in the “first round”. The fifth through 12th seeds will play each other in a best-of-5 “play-in” game before moving on to face the top four seeds. It’s an interesting concept, and like stated before, everyone seems to be on board with the format. What does this do for the Chicago Blackhawks? Well, let’s begin.
Chicago Blackhawks in the Playoffs
The main thing that comes from this new format is that the 12th seeded team in the Western Conference is none other than the Chicago Blackhawks.
After 70 games played the Blackhawks sit with a record of 32-30-8 for a total of 72 points. That luckily put them five points above 13th place (Western Conference) Anaheim Ducks. This will put the Blackhawks in the playoff for the first time since 2017 after getting swept by the Nashville Predators in the 2017 playoffs.
What makes this interesting is that it’ll put second year coach Jeremy Colliton in a peculiar situation. Colliton as of late hasn’t really given the Blackhawks fans much faith in him leading a team to the playoffs after a disappointing 2018/2019 season, and a not so hot start to this season as well. The team did get on a run right before the all-star break but came out of that break in a slump. The Blackhawks have been close to the wild card spots for most of the season due to the Western Conference beating up on each other game in, and game out. Although, that hasn’t given much hope of the team making the playoffs. The new format gives the Blackhawks organization, and the fans a chance to see what Colliton can do under playoff pressure. But, it’ll be a tall test because of who they’ll face in the play-in series.
Chicago Blackhawks vs Edmonton Oilers
The Chicago Blackhawks, who are the 12th seed, will face the 5th seed in the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers have been a team on fire for most of the season. After 71 games they sit with a record of 37-25-9 for 83 points. That is an 11 point difference right from the start between the two teams. When you think of the Oilers, you think of their two superstar players in Connor McDavid, and Leon Draisaitl.
Connor McDavid on the year has 34 goals and 63 assists for 97 points after playing in 64 games. McDavid is one of the faces of hockey and one of the most popular players on the Oilers. McDavid has the speed and hands to give defenses and goalies trouble every single game, and mainly every single shift. When it comes to Leon Draisaitl, he is something else entirely. So far this season he has 43 goals and 67 assists for 110 points. Analysts from around the league think Draisaitl will win the MVP this year. Those two guys alone could make a best-of-give a tough one for the Blackhawks.
Although, you cannot rule out one of the best American born players of all-time in the NHL. Ever since joining the league, Patrick Kane has been lighting it up with goals but also in just highlights alone. This season Kane has 33 goals 51 assists for 84 points in 70 games played. Kane has the ability to change a game on its head no matter what the score, or how the series is at that point. Kane is a one-man wrecking crew and a player who can carry a team if, more so when, he’s on fire. As long as the rest of the core of the Blackhawks (Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Corey Crawford) and others on their A-game, don’t overlook the Blackhawks to make a run at the right time.
Overall, the new format gives the Blackhawks a chance to make it to the playoffs for the first time since 2017 and it couldn’t have given them a better test in the Edmonton Oilers. Both teams will be fully recovered, and rested so anything can happen between the two. Either team could get hot and make a deep playoff run. This will give head coach Jeremy Colliton a taste of what playoff hockey is like especially when the organization, and the fans are watching to see how he leads this team. Furthermore, this gives the Blackhawks core, and even some of the younger guys who haven’t been there before, a chance to have the feeling of playing in the playoffs once again. This playoff format, and even the playoffs alone, will be one to watch and could be something that will talked about for years to come. All that everyone is hoping for now, is for it to happen. Are you ready for playoff hockey?
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