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Chicago Blackhawks Vs. Detroit Red Wings: Crunch Time

It's really simple, actually -- the Blackhawks just have to keep winning, and they've been having trouble doing that lately, dropping a key game Saturday to the Ducks. That allowed Anaheim to leapfrog the Blackhawks into seventh place in the Western Conference, dropping the Hawks to eighth and putting them in danger of falling out of the playoffs entirely. They stand only one point ahead of the Flames and two ahead of the Stars.

The good news is that the Hawks have played the fewest games of anyone they're in contention with -- 74 -- except for the Stars, who also have 74 games played. Thus, the Hawks can pick up points that their competitors for playoff spots don't have available to them.

The bad news is that the Hawks have to play their archrivals in the Central Division, the Red Wings, three times in the final eight games, twice in Detroit, beginning with tonight's contest. The good news about that is that Detroit has actually been a better road team than a home team so far this year. Maybe that'll work to the Hawks' advantage. In any case, they really can't afford to lose any of their remaining games, lest their conference rivals catch up.

Tonight's game will be on Versus, beginning at 6:30 p.m. CDT.