Even though the Blackhawks are 6-5-1 since their record 21-0-3 start, they have built a substantial cushion in the Central Division — guaranteeing a playoff spot.

"It feels better," said Hawks coach Joel Quenneville. "The last two years it was basically life and death to get in. You don't want to put yourself in that position where game in and game out it's going to make a difference at the end. Hopefully we can continue to enhance the position we're in and maybe you got a chance to rest or try some things.

"It's going to be very competitive to the end, but we don't want to take anything for granted where we're at. We want to finish as high as possible. We'd like to be No. 1 (in the Western Conference)."