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Thursday, March 29, 2012
Playoff update: Hawks can clinch berth

By Jesse Rogers

Every day between now and the end of the regular season I'll update you on the playoff race as it relates to the Blackhawks.

Though the standings at the bottom of the Western Conference playoff race tightened after Wednesday's action, the Blackhawks have a chance at clinching a playoff berth on Thursday night when they host the St. Louis Blues.

A win by Chicago coupled by a loss, in regulation, later in the evening by Phoenix would mean the Hawks could finish no worse than 8th in the conference, assuring them of a fourth consecutive playoff appearance.

"It's a little bit different situation than last year, fortunately," Viktor Stalberg said Thursday morning. "It would be nice to clinch it and play a couple more games with a little less pressure, maybe."

Last year the Hawks had to wait until the final game played in the NHL before backing into the playoffs. Their No. 6 seed is still in doubt though. With wins by Dallas and Los Angeles on Wednesday, those teams closed the gap on the Hawks though a loss by San Jose didn't help the Sharks move up. In fact they lost their lead in the Pacific Division. If the postseason started today the Hawks would take on the Dallas Stars, the new current leaders of the Pacific.