The calendar has flipped to April, which means we've reached the final week of NHL regular season. Time is running out for bubble teams to make a run and get in. But at this point those clubs need help, too.
The Blackhawks are six points out of the second wildcard spot in the Western Conference with four games remaining. Their odds are down to 0.4 percent, according to hockeyreference.com, and they could mathematically be eliminated from contention by the end of Monday night with a loss and Colorado win.
But until the math says they're out, the Blackhawks will never say never — even if they internally have maybe allowed themselves to think otherwise.
"We’ll take it day-by-day," Patrick Kane said. "We’ve kept things pretty positive for a while here, to be honest with you, and I think we’ve been one of the better teams in the latter half of the year in the league. It’s never fun to be in this position, but obviously there’s a lot to play for tonight to keep our season alive and keep these meaningful games going for us. That’s the position we’re in.”
At the same time, it's hard not to look back at the schedule and point to some stretches and wonder "what if?"
"At first when you think about it, it's probably easy to say those two eight-game losing streaks really hurt us," Kane said "You do that and you're giving up a fifth of the season where you're not getting any points or winning any games, so that was a tough stretch for us. It seemed like things just snowballed there for a while after the coaching change, and I know Jeremy [Colliton] was implementing the way he wanted to play but we kind of struggled right out of the gate. Once we figured it out we were a lot better. I think right after that it was the toughest part of the year for us."
The Blackhawks, at the very least, have a chance to play spoiler against the Winnipeg Jets, who are fighting for the top seed in the Central Division. But they want to start being on the other end of these meaningful games. And while they still (barely) have a chance, it's important to finish strong and on a positive note.
"We’re playing at home, we’ve got a lot of pride, it’s a big game for Winnipeg," Colliton said. "We technically are still in it. So let’s do our part. Have a great effort. Bring our best game. That’s kind of been what we’ve been saying for a while and that’s all we can do. We want to feel good about ourselves, we want to come to the rink and be happy in the morning. So you’ve got to perform."Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.