Blackhawks begin "rest of the season" tonight in Columbus

SNOW!

Now that that's out of the way, let's talk about hockey. 

The Blackhawks embark on the final stretch of the season today.  With 32 games to go, the Hawks hold the 7 seed with 56 points.  Last season, the 8th seed (Colorado) needed 95 points to get in the playoffs.  With that as the standard, the Hawks need 39 points of the available 64 remaining.  It's certainly possible, but the Hawks will need to improve their consistency to make the playoffs. 

Here are three keys to the Hawks making the playoffs.

1.       Goaltending :  Corey Crawford has been excellent this season, but he's still unproven.  Obviously, a rookie goaltender lead the Hawks to a Stanley Cup Championship, but it's a stretch to expect that two years in a row.  The Hawks could really use Marty Turco to step up and give them at least average play for the stretch run.  He'll get his first chance tonight in Columbus.

2.      Stars must step up :  Aside from All Star Game MVP Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews, the Hawks' core has not been a strong as expected this season.  Marian Hossa, after a hot start, has been ordinary.  Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook have been prone to turnovers and mental lapses, and Patrick Kane has floated more than ever.  Hossa and Kane have been playing hurt, but so are most of the players in the league.  The Hawks are walking a fine playoff line.  The stars have to be better.

3.      Deadline deal : While the Blackhawks are as tight to the salary cap as anyone in the league, the should be able to make a move or two at the trade deadline.  They would like to add a veteran stay at home defenseman and a two way center.  If they can add quality at those spots, they can be dangerous in the playoffs. 

The rest of the season starts tonight.  No more excuses.  The Hawks need to treat the rest of the season like the playoffs.         

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  • Hossa's just coming off vertigo. Let's hope that's not lingering (thanks Boynton).

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