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Posted On Thursday, 03.03.2011 / 12:25 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Countdown to the Playoffs

No easy road for Hawks

The Chicago Blackhawks are finally looking like a solid playoff team, but while their six-game winning streak has allowed them to leap from 11th to fourth in a matter of a few weeks, they are still not even close to being out of the woods. Their 76 points is only three more than the ninth-place Ducks and 10th-place Predators. The Wild are just four points back in 11th.
 
The rest of the Blackhawks' schedule is statistically the most difficult in the League. Their opponents have an average winning percentage of .586 and of Chicago's 18 games remaining, only 11 are on the road. San Jose's remaining opponents also have a .586 winning percentage, but the Sharks will play 12 of their final 18 games on home ice.
 
Let's break it down for the Blackhawks:
 
Record against teams left on schedule: 12-10-3
 
Games vs. Western Conference playoff contenders: 8
 
Games vs. teams ahead of them in Conference standings: 4
 
Games vs. Eastern Conference playoff contenders: 6
 
Games vs. teams with more than 76 points: 8
 
Biggest challenge: Three games left against Detroit
 
Biggest challenge II: Two games left against Tampa Bay

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Posted On Thursday, 03.03.2011 / 10:51 AM

By Darryl Haberman -  NHL.com Director, Production /NHL.com - Countdown to the Playoffs

If the playoffs started today ...

The defending champs are a force to be reckoned with after spending most of the season outside the playoff picture. The roar is back in the Windy City as the Blackhawks are now in fourth place in the West following Wednesday night's 6-4 win vs. Calgary. A 7-1-2 stretch, including six straight victories, has Chicago in position to secure home-ice advantage in the first round -- if the playoffs started today.

In the East, the red-hot New Jersey Devils are fighting to stay alive in the playoff race. A magical 18-2-2 run has them within nine points of the eighth and final playoff spot with only 19 games remaining. Remember, it wasn't too long ago that the Devils were 27 points out and had the worst record in hockey.

For the latest on the playoff race and what potential first-round matchups would be, check out our enhanced playoff standings.


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