The Blackhawks lost to the Phoenix Coyotes tonight 4-0 — and just like that, they’re out of the playoffs in the first round. Again.
I have to admit: this one stings worse than last year. I mean, yeah, the Blackhawks were taken out in the first round by the Vancouver Canucks — but the Canucks were the best team in the Western Conference last year. Taking them to seven was nothing short of a minor miracle.
This one, though, just feels like they caught a hot team (and a hotter goalie) at the exact wrong time. Gee, I sure am glad they got the sixth seed! If the Blackhawks would’ve faced the Nashville Predators, they probably would’ve been swept!
So, what happened? Well, there are a few factors that played into this second-straight first-round exit:
- The power play: One measly power play goal this entire series. That’s it. Of course, this has been an issue the entire year. If the Blackhawks had even an average power play percentage, this series would’ve been put away by now. If Mike Kitchen has a job after this series, I might hijack a CTA bus to run him over. Please, someone fire him and save Coach Q from himself.
- The goaltending: No, this is not all on Corey Crawford, despite what the meatballs would have you believe. But you do have to admit that he let in a couple of baby-soft goals in overtime that cost the Blackhawks at least two games. Of course, he probably wouldn’t have faced those shots in OT if it weren’t for…
- The defense: Brent Seabrook had an amazing series. Everyone else on defense, however? Not so much. It wasn’t that everyone else was so much bad as they were wildly inconsistent… which, again, has been the story this entire year.
- Marian Hossa: No, he wasn’t the one putting up goals before he was knocked out by Raffi Torres in game 3, but he was out there hustling and trying to make things work. When he was taken out of the equation, the offense wilted a bit, even with Michael Frolik doing his best Hossa impression.
So, there you have it. All of the Blackhawks’ weaknesses were exposed in this series, and it cost them dearly. Now we have an entire summer to stew over what could have been.
I guess this is where I’m supposed to congratulate the Coyotes or whatever good sportsmanship is, and part of me sort of still wants to do that. But the other, more vengeful part of me wants to watch the Preds grind them into a fine powder. I’ll get back to you when I make a decision. For now, I’m going to drink to dull the pain. Good night.