CHICAGO – If the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks meet in the Western Conference final, it wouldn’t be a stretch to suggest that the series would go the distance. And, as it stands right now, the Ducks would have the luxury of having that crucial game on home ice.
If that comes to pass and the Hawks have to win that game in Anaheim, they might have their record in extra time to blame for it. No team in the league has left more points on the table in extra time than the Blackhawks have this season. Their 3-2 overtime loss to the Colorado Avalanche Tuesday night was their seventh straight overtime/shootout loss and dropped them to 4-11 in games that go beyond regulation. If the Hawks had even been able to win half their extra-time games, they’d be just one point behind the Ducks for the Western Conference title and Presidents’ Trophy instead of four.
And more specifically, it is the overtime periods that have done them in. The Blackhawks, who have all kinds of big-game experience, have yet to win in five overtime periods. The Minnesota Wild (0-2) and Florida Panthers (0-1) are the only two other teams in the league looking for their first OT wins.
“Our record in overtimes is rather one-sided against us,” said Hawks coach Joel Quenneville. “That’s a lot of points. We should be better in that area.”
“You have to find a way to win in overtime and find that confidence, find that feeling you get when you’re getting the bounces,” said Hawks captain Jonathan Toews, who was in the penalty box when Tyson Barrie scored the winner Tuesday night. “You have the feeling it’s going to go your way and it hasn’t been that way lately.”
At the other end of the spectrum are the Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals, who basically find themselves in a playoff position today because of their league-leading 10 wins in overtimes and shootouts. The teams they’re ahead of in the playoff race – the Detroit Red Wings and New Jersey Devils, respectively – are two of the five worst extra-time teams in the league.
Here’s how each team stacks up in shootouts and overtime just past the halfway point of the season: