Home-ice advantage or no home-ice advantage, that is the question.
The Blackhawks have just two games left in the regular season, one against the Minnesota Wild and one against the vaunted Detroit Red Wings. And while the Blackhawks have secured a playoff spot, a lot rides on the final four points of the regular season.
To gain home-ice advantage, the Blackhawks will have to land in the fourth seed of the Western Conference, which they are one point away from. Both Detroit and the Nashville Predators are one or two points ahead of the Blackhawks, both with a game in hand.
But just why would the Blackhawks want home-ice advantage?
If Chicago gains the fourth spot in the Western Conference, they are most likely to meet up with either Nashville or Detroit in the first round, both unfavorable matchups for the Blackhawks.
The more favorable position right now would be the sixth seed as the Blackhawks would most likely play the Pacific Division leader in the first round. But the Hawks would be without home-ice advantage.
Patrick Kane did express his desire to win home ice in the final two games of the regular season.
“Fourth place is still attainable, so hopefully we can win some games and get home ice,” Kane said. “It’d be nice to start out at home.”
Do the Blackhawks play to lose just so they can get the more favorable matchup?
Of course not, but it would be wise to consider just who your first-round opponent will be heading into the playoffs.
Home-ice advantage isn't all that it's cracked up to be either. If the team with home-ice advantage loses one game at home, they lose the advantage. In essence, you still have to win at home and on the road to make a serious Stanley Cup run.
Chicago proved this last year when they faced off against the Vancouver Canucks in the first round.
The Canucks had home-ice advantage, yet it still took them seven games to take down the mighty Blackhawks. Home ice was stripped away from the Canucks when the Hawks won Game 5 at Rogers Arena.
It's important for the Blackhawks to start off on the right foot in the playoffs regardless of who they play. Their record at home is 27-8-6, which is third best in the NHL, but their road record is only 17-18-4, which is nowhere near the top 10.
That one extra game at home might make all the difference for the Blackhawks even if they play against Nashville.
The argument could go either way, but in the end it would be best if the Blackhawks held the sixth seed and played the Pacific Division winner.
You never know, the Hawks might just play the Dallas Stars in the first round. Home ice or not, that's still a great matchup.
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