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Lessons for the Rebuilding Blackhawks As The Playoff Picture Crystallizes



It’s not often that Blackhawks fans are watching with intrigue–and dare I say slightly some support–for the Detroit Red Wings. Here was Detroit, scoring with three seconds to force overtime and eventually win in a shootout, giving them 91 points on the season.

It’s the highest point total for the Wings since 2015-16–but it still wasn’t enough to crack the playoffs. That season, which ended in a five-game series with Tampa Bay, saw the Red Wings back into the playoffs. It would be the last gasp for the dying empire that boasted 25 consecutive seasons of making the playoffs, four Stanley Cups, numerous division titles, and six Conference Championships. But it’s been barren since, and the closest Detroit has been was last night.

It didn’t have to be like that, either. The Red Wings journey, along with the Penguins, and Flyers respective paths sees teams that didn’t finish the job much sooner in the hunt–that would have certainly put them into the playoffs with comfort.

A look at what the 2023-24 disappointment for some teams can teach the rebuilding Blackhawks about to finish a season off.

Blackhawks Right To Still Play With Urgency To Build the Culture

The problem is they simply don’t have the talent to keep up. The game against Vegas is proof positive, one where they hung with the Golden Knights almost the entire way until their lack of scoring did them in. But it wasn’t for a lack of trying. Once again, the young players were driving and it led to the lone Chicago goal, courtesy of Jason Dickinson. The season is over for Chicago–and has been for some time–but that drive continuing instead of rolling over is important developmentally.

This may generate an eyeroll or two but using the Red Wings or Flyers as an example, they’re teams that slid down the stretch and lost games they should have won. Complacency is a real thing and while no one in their right mind had the Blackhawks setting the world afire, still playing the right way and being competitive in spite of that is important so slippage doesn’t occur when the games indeed matter.

Games Matter in November Just Like They Do In April

Perhaps the hardest lesson Detroit and Philadelphia can teach the young and growing Blackhawks is that the games in early November can come back to haunt later. Take Toronto, for example. The Maple Leafs squandered a lead to the Blackhawks back in late November and Kevin Korchinski ended up potting the game winner in overtime, costing the Leafs a point. Will it matter to them? No, they’re firm in the playoffs.

But what about the Flyers? A 5-1 beating at the hands of the Blackhawks on March 30th could have been the difference in their playoff journey. Instead, they’re jilted, needing a regulation win and a whole lot of luck on Tuesday to even have snuck in.

Win that game against the Hawks? They’re playoff bound. The Red Wings dropped two games to Arizona, the same team the Blackhawks hung seven goals on. True, any given game can get any given result. But teams have to win the games they should win, and the Blackhawks have been talking about not taking solace in moral victories.

Saying it is one thing, playing like it is a whole other. Veterans like Nick Foligno, Connor Murphy, Ryan Donato, Seth Jones and especially Jason Dickinson have been adamant in not falling into a losing mindset, despite the challenges.

Next season should bring some new talent. Everyone will see what lessons have been learned as that talent suits up for the 2024-25 season.

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