With a 3-1 loss to the Oilers on Saturday night, the break for the Blackhawks is certainly over and the sprint to the finish line is on.
There isn’t too much time left to tinker with the lines as just a little more than a month remains in the regular season. And there’s certainly no time for cold streaks.
Fortunately, over the next few weeks the Hawks will face plenty of top competition to get them geared up for the playoffs.
Here’s a look at the most import games through the end of March.
Feb. 21 @ Minnesota
The Hawks beat the Wild 4-3 in OT earlier this month in what Chicago’s locker room called “the most important game of the season so far.” Now they return to St. Paul looking to steal another win against the Central Division’s best squad.
Feb. 26 vs St. Louis
Chicago hasn’t seen the Blues since Mike Yeo took over as head coach for Ken Hitchcock. In that time, St. Louis has become one of the hotter teams in the league and are currently just eight points behind the Hawks in the Central. It’ll be a good test to see if Joel Quenneville can still defeat a Yeo team when it matters.
March 1 vs Pittsburgh
Assuming everyone is healthy — which always seems to be an issue when these two play — the Hawks will host the reigning Stanley Cup champions for the first of two meetings over the next month.
March 4 @ Nashville
The first of three back-to-backs in March comes on the road against another division rival. At the moment, Nashville isn’t looking too dangerous, but if the Hawks are going to make a push to win the Central, they can’t take these points for granted.
March 10 @ Detroit
The next of the back-to-backs puts the Hawks in Detroit a night after hosting the Ducks. It’s a rivalry game against a Red Wings team Chicago should beat easily — even on short rest.
March 12 vs Minnesota
The final regular season matchup between these two takes place at the United Center, and if the division is still in play, it could be the toughest game the Hawks have until the playoffs.
March 14 @ Montreal
With a new (former) coach behind the bench in Claude Julien, and a few ex-Blackhawks on the roster, Montreal will be looking to make a statement against one of the West’s top clubs.
March 18 @ Toronto
If Toronto is still in a position to make the playoffs at this point, it’s a game the Leafs can’t afford to lose. If not, it’s a game Toronto’s rookies will want to prove they’re capable of rising to.
March 19 vs Colorado
The final back-to-back of the season comes at the end of a three-game road trip to Canada. Not to mention the fact that the Hawks always seem to have trouble with the Avalanche no matter where either team is in the standings.
March 27 @ Tampa Bay
The Lightning may very well be eliminated from playoff contention at this point, but it’s a Stanley Cup Final rematch. No one will be taking this game lightly.
March 29 @ Pittsburgh
The series finale between the two Cup contenders. Again, presuming everyone is healthy, this is game is a measuring stick for just how prepared each team is for the playoffs.
March 31 vs Columbus
Brandon Saad and a sneaky good Blue Jackets team come to the United Center looking to prove they’re for real before the regular season ends.