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In midst of Central Division race, Blackhawks have easiest remaining schedule

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The Blues' schedule isn't much more difficult, but the Stars? Oh - they're in tough.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

So, the Chicago Blackhawks fell to the Dallas Stars. That's not ideal under normal circumstances, but when there's a really, really tight three-way division race on the line, it's even worse. The difference between winning the Central or not is playing a wild card team in the first round of the playoffs - or facing off against another Central team you're neck-in-neck with.

But as Mark Lazerus pointed out, despite the loss, there's still reason to be feeling good:

The Hawks face the Kings, Stars, Bruins, and Blues in the rest of the regular season. Though it's worth noting they also play the Flyers and Wild: two teams in the thick of the playoff race.

So that leaves six games against the Jets, Flames, Canucks, Coyotes, and Blue Jackets: all teams whose playoff aspirations are pretty much over, or should be by the time the Hawks play them.

The Blues? They still face the Stars, Sharks, Capitals, Avalanche, Bruins, and Hawks over eight games - including the NHL-leading Caps twice. It is worth noting, though, that the Avalanche are basically in the same position as the Wild: they're right on the bubble, so they could go either way in being a playoff team or not.

They also face the Flames, Oilers, Canucks, and Coyotes five times before the season ends: just one less game against bottom feeders than the Hawks.

The Stars, on the other hand, really have it tough. They still face the Blues, Kings, Lightning, Islanders, Hawks, Sharks, Predators, Ducks, and Avalanche. With just two games against the Coyotes remaining on their schedule, almost their entire lead up to the playoffs is against, well, playoff teams.

The Blackhawks are just two points back of the division lead. There's just under a month left in the season. It's anybody's division - but you have to like Chicago's chances.