The Blackhawks have 32 games remaining in the regular season -- about 40% of the season. Also, they have now played fewer games than most teams, after having played more than most earlier in the season.
So why does this feel like a "must-win"? Obviously, there's plenty of time to catch up. But in the paraphrased words of the great sage Yogi Berra, "It gets late early out there." The Blackhawks are 11th in the Western Conference, and they trail the Flames by one point heading into tonight's action. A loss tonight would put them in danger of falling as many as three places -- because the 14th-place Blue Jackets are only four points behind. On the bright side, fourth place in the conference -- currently held by the Nashville Predators -- is only five points ahead of the Blackhawks' position.
So there are a ton of teams -- 11 of them in all -- who are within nine points in the conference. The problem for the Blackhawks is that they have not been able to distinguish themselves from the herd or get any sort of consistent winning going. And the last time they were in Calgary, on Nov. 19, they got thrashed 7-2. Marty Turco started that game in goal. Corey Crawford will start tonight. Hopefully, there will be a better result.
The game begins at 8:30 p.m. CST and will be televised on CSN Chicago.