The Chicago Blackhawks became the first team in the West to clinch playoff berth, which is just a
not that fancy way of saying that they're in the playoffs, regardless of their performance from this point on.
This comes as no surprise: The Hawks have been red-hot from the start of this shortened season with two reliable goaltenders, and an incredible display of team consistency. Despite a few setbacks (read: injury), the Hawks have managed to remain at the top of the league.
One player who has a good chance of returning before they hit the playoffs is team playmaker, Patrick Sharp who usually plays on the wing but, has stated he would not be adverse to playing Center if the team needed him there upon his return.
“I think we probably added a couple extra days to his time away, but he’s been skating well and he wants to play, and we look forward to getting him in the lineup, because it give us a lot more options with the lines,” revealed Blackhawks Coach, Joel Quenneville.
Expect to see Sharp back in action on Tuesday, as the Blackhawks travel to Minnesota to face the Wild.
But will he just be a nice option to have? The team has managed to keep itself on top of the league without him for the last fourteen games.
I don't think the answer is that simple. The importance of having an option like Patrick Sharp should not be underestimated; his skill-set is highly coveted in the league and it is sorely missed when absent.
That is not to say that the team cannot function without Sharp, though. It is more than clear from the last fourteen games that they can - probably why they are the first team in the West to make it to the Playoffs.
Is there a Blackhawks player the team couldn't function without?