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Wednesday Night hockey: Blackhawks look to keep slim playoff hopes alive

St Louis Blues v Chicago Blackhawks

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 08: Duncan Keith #2 of the Chicago Blackhawks and Mackenzie MacEachern #28 of the St. Louis Blues watch the puck next to goalie Corey Crawford #50 in the first period at the United Center on March 8, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images)

NHLI via Getty Images

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with the Wednesday Night Hockey matchup between the San Jose Sharks and Chicago Blackhawks. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

The Blackhawks’ playoff chances are hanging by a thread.

As of right now, the ‘Hawks are eight points behind Vancouver for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. The other problem is that they have to leap over four teams to get there.

So, the odds aren’t exactly in their favor right now.

But they’ll have an opportunity to get themselves back in the race on home ice (mostly). Eight of their next 11 contests will be played at the United Center. The bad news is that just three of those games will be played against teams that they’re trying to catch

Chicago has dropped back-to-back games to the Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues.

“It sucks,” defenseman Connor Murphy said. “Losing sucks, especially having a couple in a row. When they seem to get more heated and obviously the games matter more, it’s frustrating for sure.”

One of the interesting storylines to follow for Chicago will be the future of their goaltending position. One of the reasons they still have a tiny shot of making the postseason is because of the play of Corey Crawford, who is scheduled to become a free agent at the end of the season.

Since Feb. 21, Crawford is tied for first in game’s started (9), he’s tied for fourth in wins (5), and he’s 4th in save-percentage (minimum six starts) at .928.

The 35-year-old has had a long history with vertigo and concussions, so general manager Stan Bowman might want to look elsewhere for a starting goalie. But what if he continues performing at a high level down the stretch? Do they keep him as the undisputed starter? Do they bring in another 1-B goalie to split starts with him? It’s an interesting dilemma.

Before they have to make a decision on that, they can continue to evaluate his play in games that are still technically meaningful for them.

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Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.