Playoffs update: Hawks open 6-point lead

Every day between now and the end of the regular season I’ll update the playoff picture as it relates to the 42-26-9 Chicago Blackhawks:

The Hawks inched closer to clinching their fourth consecutive playoff berth by earning a point in a 2-1 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night. Teams chasing them were all idle so as the No. 6 seed the Hawks opened up a six-point lead on the No. 7 Dallas Stars and seven points on the No. 9 Los Angeles Kings. The top eight teams in the conference make the postseason.

With 93 points, the Hawks are just three behind the No. 5-seeded Nashville Predators, who lost 3-0 to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday. Both teams have five games remaining on their schedule, including one against each other on Saturday.

Wednesday’s action in the NHL includes Western Conference foes San Jose Sharks, Stars, Kings and the Colorado Avalanche playing but none against each other. It’s still bound to create movement as those four teams, along with the Phoenix Coyotes, are separated by just two points.

If the playoffs opened today the Hawks would take on the No. 3 seed Sharks but that potential matchup is a precarious one considering the bottom of that Western Conference playoff picture is so muddled.