It’s way too early to say something like “if the season ended today, the Blackhawks would not be in the playoffs.” Granted, this is a true statement and the standings decently reflect the type of play we’ve seen from the Hawks so far this year. Last night, things were said (mostly tweeted) like “devastating loss.” While it’s true that you can’t lose a game like that to a conference rival who you’ve completely owned over this run of franchise success, there really aren’t any devastating losses in November. The only devastating losses that can happen this early in the season involve injuries. See McDavid, Connor.
While wins and losses during the regular season will cause the average fan to get too high or low on a team, this isn’t a bashing of worry wart Hawks fans who will continue to panic all season long. In fact, it seems like the fans have actually grown more accustomed to the coasting fashion in which the Hawks play the regular season. After all, the NHL regular season is very similar to basketball. It matters, but it sort of doesn’t. For the Blackhawks, this regular season will probably mean more than most as of late.
The 2015-16 Blackhawks lost a tremendous number of players after winning the Stanley Cup last year. They’re going to struggle to maintain a good playoff position heading into 2016 and beyond. They’re not going to outskate everyone every night, and you can argue that they didn’t even do that last year. While their core group of players will most likely push them far enough to make it to the playoffs, it’s not a slam dunk that they make the dance.
Just take a look at the standings right now. The Western Conference, specifically the Central Division, is absolutely loaded with good teams. I compare the Blackhawks this year the Kings of last year. Constantly hovering around the last couple of playoff spots, eventually either climbing over the wall or slipping and missing the chance to defend their title. The Kings wound up missing the playoffs last year, but their wasn’t a soul in Chicago who wouldn’t have been terrified if they ended up making it and playing the Hawks. The same goes for the Hawks this season. Maybe they can’t do enough throughout the regular season to make it to the playoffs, but if they do they will be the most feared team in the tournament.