These last few games mean everything for the Hawks.
Well, something finally went their way.
The ravenous pack of rabid wolves that is the Western Conference playoff race broke the Hawks' way yesterday, with both the Anaheim Ducks and Dallas Stars losing in regulation. It can get better as they play each other tonight while the Hawks deal with Tampa Bay. Assuming that goes in regulation as well, with a win the Hawks could either move seven clear of Dallas or leapfrog the Ducks into seventh if the Stars should prevail in Orange County tonight.
While leaping a team sounds nice, the Stars could be dangerous this last week. They have a complete softball of a schedule playing the long-dead-and-rotting Colorado Avalanche twice as well as fellow tenants of the hockey graveyard Columbus and Minnesota. It wouldn't be hard for the Stars to run that out, so a seven point cushion may be needed. Assuming that's how it shakes out, even the Stars going 4-0 would mean the Hawks would only have to take two points of the last eight to finish ahead of them.
The Calgary Flames are still lurking, only three back, and they have batting practice today, too, with a game against Colorado. But they have the problem of only having two games after that. So again, with a Hawks win the Flames can only accrue four more points, meaning the Hawks would only need one more win to be ahead of them. If you're ahead of both the Flames and Stars when the music stops, it means you get to keep on dancing.
The Preds only gained one point yesterday, blowing a three goal lead to Detroit at home. They're still in touching distance, too, only three points ahead of the Hawks with the Hawks holding the tie-breaker. And the Hawks have a game in hand, but it might not matter as the Preds close out with the hanging curveballs of Atlanta, Columbus and St. Louis. To catch them, the Hawks are going to need the Preds to drop one of those.
The Ducks aren't out of the woods either, having to play chief rival LA twice, and those Freeway Series games are never cut and dry. Figure a split there. The Hawks have two games in hand on the Coyotes, too, but don't have the tie breaker on them yet. The Yotes will have to deal with San Jose twice, who are scrapping to finish ahead of Detroit. They probably won't take all those points.
But none of this matters if the Hawks can't get their own house in order. There are no easy games left, with the only non-contender being St. Louis left on the docket, and the Blues live for games against the Hawks.