The Chicago Blackhawks players and coaches probably thought their season was over when the NHL shut down on March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic. After all, the Hawks were sitting dead last in the Central Division with 72 points and would later make a major change in the front office in firing team president John McDonough in a stunner.
However, with the NHL expanding its postseason from 16 teams to 24, the Hawks are in – the only last-place team in that field. The No. 12 seeded Blackhawks will face the No. 5 Edmonton Oilers in a best-of-5 qualifying round series. The when and where hasn't been determined yet by commissioner Gary Bettman, although it would be an upset if the Western Conference playoffs aren't in Las Vegas.
Here are the various Blackhawks NHL futures odds from William Hill sportsbook:
- To win Stanley Cup: +10000 long shots with Montreal
- To win Western Conference: +5000 long shots
- To beat Oilers in series: +135 (Edmonton -155)
- Season Over-Under record: 34-35-1
Chicago was a seller ahead of February's NHL trade deadline by shipping out goaltender Robin Lehner to the Golden Knights and defenseman Eric Gustafsson to the Flames. Lehner, a pending free agent, shared time in net with Corey Crawford. It will certainly be Crawford against the Oilers. He had a 2.77 goals-against average and .917 save percentage this season.
The Hawks averaged 2.97 goals per game and allowed 3.06 for a goals differential of minus-6. That's the worst of any Western Conference playoff team. Former Hart Trophy winner Patrick Kane was having another fine season with 33 goals and 84 points, both first on the team by a wide margin. Dominik Kubalik had been one of the league's top rookie with 30 goals.
The Hawks were 2-1 vs. Edmonton in the regular season. Kane had two goals and two assists, and Jonathan Toews two goals and a helper. Kane owns the Oilers with 56 career points in 43 games. That 1.3 points-per-game average is his best against any Western Conference foe. Crawford won both his starts vs. the Oilers, allowing four goals on 52 shots.
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