The Blackhawks have six regular season games remaining. So do their nearest pursuers for the last playoff spot, the Dallas Stars, who currently trail the Blackhawks by three points. The Calgary Flames are tied with the Stars with 87 points, but have played two more games, so their road to the playoffs is tougher.
Win all the remaining games and the No. 8 seed (at least) belongs to the Blackhawks. This sounds easy, but just when "easy" has been the way of the Hawks this season, things have turned difficult. Of the six remaining games, only tonight in Columbus and the game vs. the Blues on April 6 are against teams out of playoff contention. The others -- against the Canadiens, Lightning and two against the arch-rival Red Wings -- will make this a tough road for the defending Stanley Cup champions.
The Hawks are 3-2 against Columbus so far this season; the last time the teams met, at the United Center on Feb. 18, the Blue Jackets won 4-3. The Hawks cannot afford to lose this game.
It starts at 6 p.m. CDT and you can watch on CSN Chicago.