The Chicago Blackhawks could be on the verge of a long playoff run.
In recent weeks the Blackhawks have shown that they can win against the best teams in the Western Conference.
Consistency has been a problem, though the Hawks are missing their captain and top defenseman.
But just how far can the Blackhawks go in the postseason this year? Is it fair to say that these Chicago Blackhawks can hoist the Stanley Cup when all is said and done?
With the way things are shaping up, it would be fair to say that, even considering how inconsistent they have been all year.
The stars are aligning for the Blackhawks: Players are coming back, first-round match-ups are looking favorable and playoff hockey is almost here.
The Blackhawks are missing four key players from their roster.
Their captain Jonathan Toews has been out for weeks with concussion-like symptoms, and has the organization fearing the worst. Toews has been skating all this week and is expected to be cleared for contact very soon, which means he might be back in time for the playoffs, though it's not his first attempt at returning.
Marcus Kruger and Steve Montador have both been out with concussions, but could be in tomorrow night against the New Jersey Devils.
Duncan Keith is serving his five-game suspension for his elbow to the head of Daniel Sedin. Keith is expected to be back for the final two games of the season.
If all four of these key players were able to make a return to the roster before the playoffs, it would be very fair to say that they could hit a hot streak. Toews and Keith are getting the rest they need right before the playoffs are set to begin, which can only be a good thing.
Adding the Blackhawks' best forward and defenseman will only help the their odds in the postseason.
Regardless of what critics might say about the Blackhawks, this is a team looking to come out in a big way for the postseason.
As it stands right now, the Blackhawks are the six-seed in the Western Conference, which means if the season ended today, they would play the Dallas Stars.
How far will the Blackhawks make it in the Playoffs?
Playing against Dallas gives the Hawks their best chance to hit their stride in the playoffs.
Forget home-ice advantage, it won't make too much of a difference if the Blackhawks play Nashville or Detroit.
Once the regular season is over, it's over. Records aside, every team that makes the playoffs starts out with zero wins and zero losses. Every team has a chance to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup and the Blackhawks are no exception.
The Blackhawks core have been here before and have won a Stanley Cup. That kind of experience will serve the "veterans" of this team well. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews will look to lead the team back to the promised land.
It is also important to note that the Hawks have one of the best offensive cores in the NHL, along with arguably the best defensive pairing in Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.
They also have one of the best checking lines with Dave Bolland, Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell.
Whatever happens in these final six games of the season will soon be a footnote if the Hawks manage to get in as the sixth seed and face off against Dallas.
It's the postseason in the NHL; anything is possible.