Chicago Blackhawks' Situation Isn't as Dire as Previously Thought

Tyler JuranovichCorrespondent IIIJanuary 24, 2011

DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 22:  Patrick Sharp #10 of the Chicago Black Hawks waits for a faceoff in a game against the Detroit Red Wings on January 22, 2011 at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. The Hawks defeated the Wings 4-1. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Claus Andersen/Getty Images

The Chicago Blackhawks, before this weekend, had a five-day break before returning back to action on Saturday where they outplayed and beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-1, only to lose to the Philadelphia Flyers by the same score. 

But I am not here to talk about those games or give any recap. 

What that break did was let all the other teams that were two to four games behind the Blackhawks in games played, catch up.

What we saw was the Blackhawks maintain a thinly-held No. 7 seed in the Western Conference, one point behind Phoenix and one point ahead San Jose.

It's not the best of places to be after earning a No. 2 seed at the end of last season. If you really want to look at it negatively, the Blackhawks lost only 22 games last season compared to the 19 this season they already have with 33 games left. 

But I am not here to look at it negatively.

Most Blackhawks fans knew, but maybe didn't accept, that the Blackhawks were going to be a less-talented team. It was going to take some time for the new team to get acquainted with each, for the goaltender situation to pan out and for Coach Quenneville to get the lines right.

Throughout the beginning of the season the Blackhawks' points were somewhat inflated, meaning they had played more games than most other teams had.

Now, because of the five-game break, the teams are for the most part on par with games played.

After toiling for the beginning of the season, the Blackhawks are becoming an unified team. They've found their goaltender in Corey Crawford and found the best possible defensive pairings.

And, maybe the most important part, the team is healthy.

With that, I don't see the Blackhawks missing the playoffs unless they seriously fold down the stretch of the regular season. A top seed isn't necessary to perform well in the NHL playoffs. History has proved that lower seeds can make a run toward the Stanley Cup.  

The Blackhawks play Minnesota Tuesday and then go on the All-Star break.  

They aren't as potent as last season, but the outlook of the season hasn't looked this optimistic all season long.