The Chicago Blackhawks are in a similar spot as the San Jose Sharks right now. They head into this matchup with both unlikely to make the playoffs.
The Chicago Blackhawks are in all likelihood not going to be in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the third straight year. That was after a decade of dominance that saw them reach the Western Conference Finals five times and win the Stanley Cup three times. The San Jose Sharks were a formidable foe for a majority of those years, if not all of them. They never got to lift the Cup but they sure have come close.
It has been a really long time since both of these teams have missed the playoffs. In fact, the 2002-03 season was the last time that the Stanley Cup playoffs didn’t feature at least one of the Chicago Blackhawks or San Jose Sharks. These two have been awesome for a very long time but the current state of each franchise is less than ideal. Each team might have a pretty ugly rebuild in front of them unless something amazing happens over the next year or two.
Throughout the years, each team has had some absolute studs play for them. Patrick Kane, Joe Thornton, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Marleau led this matchup. There have also been some other great players supporting them along the way like Marian Hossa, Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, and Duncan Keith. Some of these guys still play for these clubs but others have moved on. Either way, the memories of the old days start to come back as they meet each other tonight.
Normally, the National Hockey League is used to all of it’s California teams going to the playoffs. San Jose was basically their only hope going into this season because the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks are rebuilding so their disappointing season is ending a long streak. This season will be absent from California teams in the playoffs for the first time since 1995-96.
This game against each other is still going to be fun. The Blackhawks still might believe that they have a chance at the playoffs so they will at the very least be playing hard. They are seven points out so they can believe whatever they want, but it is highly unlikely now. Either way, this is a big opportunity for players on each team to try and go into the summer feeling good about their game.