Push for the Playoffs: Blackhawks face long odds in playoff chase

Push for the Playoffs will run every morning through the end of the 2018-19 NHL season. We’ll highlight the current playoff picture in both conferences, take a look at what the first-round matchups might look like, see who’s leading the race for the best odds in the draft lottery and more.

Time is not on the Chicago Blackhawks’ side. Heading into tonight’s action, the ‘Hawks find themselves six points out of a playoff spot with just 13 games to go. Can they do the unthinkable?

It all starts with their game in Toronto tonight. The Maple Leafs are one of the better teams in the league and they’re still fighting for home-ice advantage in the playoffs. The Leafs are also coming off an ugly loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night. This one won’t be easy for Chicago.

“We’re always looking (at the standings) after the fact a little bit,” Brandon Saad said, per the Chicago Tribune. “But we know we’ve got to just control what we can control here and take it day by day and game by game. All you can do is keep winning and hope for the best.”

If the Blackhawks are going to get in, they’re going to need at least 10 or 11 victories between now and the end of the season. Even then, there’s no guarantee that 20 more points will be enough to get them in (it probably won’t).

IF THE PLAYOFFS STARTED TODAY
Lightning vs. Blue Jackets
Capitals vs. Hurricanes
Islanders vs. Penguins
Bruins vs. Maple Leafs

Sharks vs. Coyotes
Jets vs. Stars
Flames vs. Golden Knights
Predators vs. Blues

TODAY’S GAMES WITH PLAYOFF CONTENDERS
Blackhawks vs. Maple Leafs, 7pm E.T. (NBCSN, livestream)
Devils vs. Oilers, 9:30 pm E.T. (NBCSN, livestream)
Rangers vs. Canucks, 10:00 p.m. ET

EASTERN CONFERENCE

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via Sports Club Stats)
Lightning – In
Bruins – 100 percent
Maple Leafs – 100 percent
Capitals – 99.7 percent
Islanders – 99.5 percent
Penguins – 96.9 percent
Hurricanes – 93.8 percent
Blue Jackets – 56.3 percent
Canadiens – 44.9 percent
Flyers – 7.6 percent
Panthers – 1.0 percent
Sabres – 0.3 percent
Rangers – 0 percent
Devils – Out
Red Wings – Out
Senators – Out

WESTERN CONFERENCE

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via Sports Club Stats)
Sharks – 100 percent
Flames – 100 percent
Jets – 100 percent
Predators – 99.8 percent
Blues – 99.3 percent
Golden Knights – 99.1 percent
Stars – 86.5 percent
Coyotes 38.9 percent
Wild – 37.4 percent
Avalanche – 29 percent
Oilers – 5.0 percent
Blackhawks – 4.8 percent
Canucks – 0.3 percent
Ducks – 0 percent
Kings – 0 percent

JACK OR KAAPO? THE DRAFT LOTTERY PICTURE
Senators – 18.5 percent*
Red Wings – 13.5 percent
Kings – 11.5 percent
Devils – 9.5 percent
Ducks – 8.5 percent
Canucks – 7.5 percent
Rangers – 6.5 percent
Sabres – 6 percent
Blackhawks – 5 percent
Oilers – 3.5 percent
Avalanche – 3 percent
Panthers – 2.5 percent
Wild – 2 percent
Flyers – 1.5 percent
Canadiens – 1 percent
(*OTT’s 2019 first-round pick owned by COL)

ART ROSS RACE
Nikita Kucherov, Lightning – 111 points
Patrick Kane, Blackhawks – 98 points
Connor McDavid, Oilers – 98 points
Johnny Gaudreau, Flames – 90 points
Sidney Crosby, Penguins – 90 points

ROCKET RICHARD RACE
Alex Ovechkin, Capitals – 46 goals
Leon Draisaitl, Oilers – 42 goals
Patrick Kane, Blackhawks – 41 goals
Cam Atkinson, Blue Jackets – 38 goals
John Tavares, Maple Leafs – 38 goals

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

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