Blackhawks Head Coach Joel Quenneville has harped on the importance of a strong start to the season.
As the season progresses points are harder to come by. The points awarded in the shootout make it harder to gain ground. And the number of teams in contention make it more difficult to jockey for playoff spots.
But after 14 games, Quenneville's team is right in the middle of the pack he wants to avoid.
"League-wide, parity has probably never been better. I think only a couple of teams have a little breathing room. But it's so early that whether you're three or four games above 500, you're only a couple ahead of the group," Quenneville said. "I know it's a long year, but hopefully at the end of the year, we're above that group, knowing that it's not life or death getting into the playoffs come Game 82. But it's looks like it will be an amazing race across the board right until the end."
The Blackhawks have to break from that pack this month to change the playoff equation.