History may not be on the side of the Blackhawks this time around

History may not be on the side of the Blackhawks this time around

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – History teaches us plenty. It's a great guide to show us what worked, what didn't in the past.

For the Blackhawks, recent playoff history has been good. Even when they've been down in a series, the Blackhawks have shown great resolve. They've come back from 0-2 and 3-1 deficits to win series against St. Louis and Detroit, respectively, rallied from 0-3 against Vancouver in 2011 to force a Game 7, which they lost in overtime.

With each deficit the Blackhawks have faced in this series against the Nashville Predators, we've looked back on their history, looked for some instance in which they've been here, done this before and can do it again.

But in this case, there may not really be a good comparison.

The last time the Blackhawks trailed 3-0 in a series was that first-round tilt against Vancouver in 2011. But as coach Joel Quenneville said about that on Monday night, "that was a long time ago. Different group here."

That team was coming off its first Stanley Cup in decades and the salary-cap purge that followed. Even going down 3-0, there were more positives to take from those three games. There were a few more contributions across the board offensively. The Blackhawks were shut out in that first game vs. Vancouver but scored six goals over the next two contests.

And while the Blackhawks were pared down to the core that's still relatively intact today, that core was six years younger with a lot less mileage on it. Stanley Cup runs, Olympics, World Cup, whether players or coaches want to admit it, it all has to take its toll.

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If there is any similarity between then and now it's the Blackhawks' mantra, which is the one any team takes when it's down 3-0 in a series.

"Obviously, it's not the situation or position we want to be in, being down 3-0, but take it one game at a time, one shift at a time, one period at a time," Duncan Keith said. "Anything can happen. We've got to stay positive in here and try to win that first shift and go from there."

Do you rule a comeback completely out? Of course not. It's the Blackhawks and it's the postseason, so anything is possible. Four teams in NHL history have come back to win a series after being down 3-0, two from a while back (1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and 1975 New York Islanders) and two recently (2010 Philadelphia Flyers and 2014 Los Angeles Kings). Quenneville referenced the last two on Tuesday.  

"We played Philly in the finals in 2010. They were down 3-0 and they go to the finals. L.A., down 3-0 first round to San Jose, and win a Cup. So, I know it's a gigantic hole we've put ourselves in here, but those are two pretty good examples of being around to see," he said.

Again, anything is possible. But the Blackhawks' performances are going to have to get a lot better at lot quicker. In the first three games they've played one really good period, and that was the second on Monday night.

The Blackhawks face a Herculean task starting with Thursday night's game. It can be done. History has shown us it can be. But considering how the Blackhawks have played so far this series, this history will be even that much tougher to make.

Report: Blackhawks will head to Edmonton in NHL's Return to Play plan

Report: Blackhawks will head to Edmonton in NHL's Return to Play plan

The NHL and NHL Players' Association worked diligently into the late hours on Tuesday and reportedly made significant progress as the two sides look to come to an overall agreement on the protocols and safety measures for Phase 3 and 4, transition rules and a Collective Bargaining Agreement extension. 

Nothing is official until the entire deal is ratified — the voting could take place Friday or Saturday — but, barring any last-minute breakdowns, Edmonton and Toronto are expected to be named the two hub cities for the league's 24-team Return to Play plan, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie. Chicago was among the four finalists from a field that started with 10 candidates.

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Vegas was a clear frontrunner from the beginning because of its appealing and tight bubble environment, but the NHL and NHLPA were forced to shift its attention elsewhere after an alarming spike in COVID-19 cases.

It was originally believed that the league would put each conference in opposite regions to eliminate any sort of competitive advantage, but that no longer appears to be the case. The Western Conference is expected to play in Edmonton while the Eastern Conference will go to Toronto, which means the Blackhawks will head to Edmonton if or when hockey officially returns.

Both hub cities will host exhibition games, the qualifying round and Rounds 1 and 2 of the playoffs, but only one of them will host the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final. It's unclear which city will host the latter.

Report: Blackhawks' Ian Mitchell not expected to play in NHL's 24-team playoff

Report: Blackhawks' Ian Mitchell not expected to play in NHL's 24-team playoff

When the NHL's Return To Play plan and 24-team playoff format were originally being hashed out, there was some hope that the Blackhawks could receive some much-needed defensive depth from Ian Mitchell. But that may not be the case.

Chicago could use all the help they can get in their potential best-of-5 play-in series against the Oilers under the league's format.

Mitchell, 21, was drafted by the Hawks in the second round (No. 57 overall) of the 2017 NHL Draft. He spent the past three seasons at the University of Denver, captaining the Pioneers this past year and setting a career high in goals (10) and points (32) through 36 games.

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The promising defenseman signed a three-year entry-level contract with Chicago in April after the NHL paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 11.

Wednesday morning, TSN's Bob McKenzie reported players in a similar boat to Mitchell who signed during the pause, as well as unsigned draft picks, are not expected to be eligible if and when the NHL resumes to finish the 2019-20 season.