CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks are likely going to finish first and second in the Western Conference because no other team is within 10 points of either of them with less than 20 games remaining.
Which order the Blackhawks and Ducks finish in likely won’t be determined until the season’s final week. The Blackhawks currently hold a three-point advantage on the Ducks with both teams having 18 games left.
Here’s a look at how both teams’ schedules play out for the remainder of the regular season:
The Blackhawks and Ducks will meet for the final time in the regular season in Chicago on Friday. The Ducks have defeated the Blackhawks 3-2 in a shootout and 4-2 in regulation this season. The Blackhawks led both games after two periods.
The most difficult part of the Blackhawks’ remaining schedule will likely be their back-to-back games. They have six sets of back-to-backs remaining. Four of those include playing one game on the road and one at home. The Ducks have four sets of back-to-backs left, but all four include playing in the same city in both games.
What could present a problem for the Ducks’ schedule is how they will play multiple teams consecutive times. They played the Detroit Red Wings on Friday and will again in their next game on Sunday. They play the San Jose Sharks on March 25 and 27, the Dallas Stars on April 1, 3 and 5 and the Edmonton Oilers on April 21 and 22.
The Blackhawks have 11 of their remaining 18 games at the United Center where they own an 11-1-1 home record. They don’t have a remaining road trip longer than two games, but they do play three of their final four games on the road. Their toughest remaining road game will likely be at Minnesota on April 9. The Wild are 10-3-1 at home.
The Ducks will be at home for nine games and on the road for nine games. The Ducks do have two four-game road trips left. Four of their last five games are on the road.
The Columbus Blue Jackets have been the hottest team in the Western Conference. The Blue Jackets are 8-0-2 in their past 10 games. The Ducks have two remaining games with the Blue Jackets, and the Blackhawks have none.
The Blackhawks have eight remaining divisional games, including two against Detroit. The Red Wings are second in the Central with 35 points.
The Ducks also have eight remaining divisional games, including two with the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings are second in the Pacific with 36 points.
The Blackhawks have nine games remaining with teams currently in the playoffs, and the Ducks have seven such games. That probably won’t matter, though, as all seven teams not currently in the playoffs are within six points of being in the playoffs.