The Blackhawks' playoff percentage has been in the low single digits for a while now. But Tuesday was a good day. Actually, a very good day.
After winning their fifth game in a row, the Blackhawks found themselves only three points out of the final wild card spot in the Western Conference. But they received major help from around the league that has Chicago thinking about the playoff possibilities.
Going into Tuesday, six teams stood in the way between the Blackhawks and the second wild card position. Five of those teams (Anaheim, Arizona, Colorado, Edmonton and Vancouver) lost in regulation. The other (St. Louis) won in regulation. Heck, even Minnesota, which is sitting in the first wild card spot, lost — albeit in a shootout.
With their comeback victory against the Oilers and the Ducks losing their fifth straight game, the Blackhawks jumped Anaheim in the standings. One down, five more to go.
Because of how Tuesday unfolded, the Blackhawks' playoff odds nearly doubled in one day, going from 3.5 to 7.2 percent, according to sportsclubstats.com. It doesn't seem like a lot, but consider this: their percentage was at a mere 0.3 prior to their five-game winning streak.
Clearly, getting above the playoff line remains a longshot because four of the five teams ahead of the Blackhawks still have at least one game in hand — Colorado has two and St. Louis has three. The only team that doesn't? The Canucks, who visit Chicago on Thursday and have a minus-13 goal differential on the road compared to a plus-4 at home.
Here's where the big picture challenge lies: The Blackhawks have 28 games left. Only eight of them are against the five teams referenced above — three of which are against Colorado. That means they need to continue getting major help from around the NHL because they don't exactly control their own destiny. And they need to do it with the roster as currently constructed because it's difficult to envision a scenario where the Blackhawks deviate from the plan and become buyers.
So it's not impossible, but it's still a significant uphill battle. Crazier things have happened in hockey.
If the Blackhawks can somehow pull this off, this would fall right into that conversation, considering their chances at landing the No. 1 overall pick (7.5 percent) outweighs their chances of making the playoffs (7.2). But the gap has closed considerably, for better or worse.