Unfortunately, the team still has to overcome some significant obstacles before they worry about the other teams in their division. Goaltending has been an issue as Corey Crawford has been out while battling an injury, but Scott Darling has held down the fort recently and will once again man the crease in Sunday’s game against the Canucks.
The Blackhawks’ power play unit has also been faltering badly, leading to an overall scoring drought. The team has failed to score on its last 22 power play attempts, including two failures during Saturday’s victory. Head coach Joel Quenneville has tried to reconfigure lines and use different players among the two groups, but nothing has seemed to work as one of the team’s best areas has become a weakness in recent games.
Finally, the Blackhawks will be looking to get Patrick Kane going again as the season draws to a close. Despite having an assist in Saturday’s win, the winger has managed to notch a point in just three of his last eight games, and with Artem Anisimov and Artemi Panarin both struggling to make an impact on offense, the pressure is mounting on Kane to get his issues figured out.
Fortunately for the Blackhawks, the Canucks are fading even faster than the defending champions. Already eliminated from the playoffs, the Canucks boast one of the league’s worst scoring offenses, a bottom-ten defense, and a poor-performing power play as they look to prevent the Blackhawks from clinching a playoff berth on Sunday night.
Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. Central time, and the game will air on WGN.
The Chicago Cubs knocked off the Oakland Athletics at Sloan Park on Tuesday afternoon, but the big story going into the game concerned the health of starting pitcher Jake Arrieta.
“(The) blister is good,” he told reporters after the start. “It was nice to get the pitch count up that high. I got to throw all my stuff and pitch through some struggles. I was able to make some good adjustments to get back on track.”
The Blackhawks coughed up their lead late in the third period, but Andrew Ladd scored with two and a half minutes to go to punch the Hawks’ ticket into the postseason. Teuvo Teravainen and Tomas Fleischmann also scored for the Hawks as they won their second consecutive game and put themselves four points ahead of the Nashville Predators in the Central Division standings.