Can the Chicago Blackhawks Catch the Detroit Red Wings?

Joe Favia@joe_faviaCorrespondent IIMarch 17, 2011

DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 22:  Tomas Kopecky #82 of the Chicago Black Hawks skates 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

If it were a couple months ago, and someone told me that the Blackhawks could possibly catch the Red Wings in the divisional race, I would've said he was a funnier comedian than Daniel Tosh right now.

But what would be considered a joke to some, has become a possibility in March with the Blackhawks' improvement, which even President Obama noticed in his speech celebrating last year's Stanley Cup winning team.

Currently, the Blackhawks sit in sixth place in the Western Conference, and are eight points back of the second ranked Wings.

The Blackhawks have gone 2-0 against the Wings since Detroit got the best of them at the beginning of the season at the Hawks banner-raising ceremony.

But with three match-ups left to go, it could in fact come down to the last weekend of the season when the teams meet twice.

The Wings should be the dead-on favorite, which should come as no surprise with winning 12 of the 16 division titles since divisional realignment.

The Blackhawks have to work extra hard to overcome the experience and talent of a Detroit team that certainly was not used to watching someone else in the Finals.

Looking at the two teams' remaining schedules, it becomes clear that every game will be important for the Blackhawks to be able to overcome the eight point gap.

The Blackhawks have 12 games left, and five of those games are against teams that are fighting to make the playoffs, just as they are.

Two of the games left are against teams that for all intents and purposes, do not have anything to play for except for better draft lottery position. Two other teams (Tampa Bay and Boston) that the Blackhawks are going to play are assured a good spot in the playoffs, but still should be tough games.

That leaves the three big tilts against the Wings. Of course, those games are must wins for the Blackhawks, as is every game left on the schedule, but if they have any hope of raising another divisional banner next season then they have to win those.

Detroit has a more difficult schedule as the season comes to a close. They play six teams, not including the Blackhawks, that are scratching and clawing to get into the playoffs.

They still have games with Pittsburgh and Vancouver, which will be games they will need to get points in.

Both the Blackhawks and Red Wings will have a lot to prove as these final games are played, but they both have a lot in common.

The Red Wings have an MVP candidate in Henrik Zetterberg who is eighth in the NHL in points this season. Blackhawks Captain Jonathan Toews has been just as good, if not better for the Blackhawks, as he is tied with Zetterberg in points this season.  However, Toews has a plus/minus of 25 compared to Henrik's two.

Both goalies have been outstanding at different points of the season. Both Jimmy Howard and Corey Crawford have shown that they will be the ones that their team will look to in the playoffs.

Overall, the majority will think that it will take a monumental collapse at the hands of the Red Wings to allow the Blackhawks to come back, and take a top three seed in the West. But, as it was said before, it simply could come down to the last weekend of the season between these bitter "Original Six" foes.


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