In front of their home fans, the Chicago Blackhawks were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Monday night, at the United Center on the city’s west side. Bested by the Phoenix Coyotes in the best of seven series, they lost all 3 postseason games on their home ice, something the team had never done. The ultimate reward for all of this year’s hard work has eluded them for another season.
For a team that never quite looked right, it was still a great series. Five straight games with five straight overtimes was something new. The games ran so late I found myself asleep on the couch a few nights. It was a series of missed opportunities and scrutinized suspensions/penalties or penalties that went uncalled in Raffi Torres’ case.
Bottom line is the Blackhawks were outplayed by a more patient team in the Coyotes. They routinely frustrated the hawks who struggled to get offense going, especially early in the series. Annoyed and frustrated the Hawks turned into an undisciplined team attempting to force the puck to the net, most of the time solo.
The Coyotes had the better goaltender in this series, and they knew it. Seemingly content to play the patient role and rely on Mike Smith to get the job done, they were able to keep control. The Blackhawks out-shot Phoenix in every game of this series, but that doesn’t mean much if the puck doesn’t go in the net. Crawford was good early in games, but let a number of weak ones thru, especially in crunch time.
So it’s back to the drawing board for the Hawks brass. They have the core, the soul of a championship contending team, but I don’t think they have the parts. Crawford may be a good enough goaltender if he had some better defensemen in front of him, that’s certainly argumentative. One thing I know is this team has too many of the same guys on it. Not enough guys with grit, with the willingness to do the dirty work. I’m not talking about dropping the gloves either. I need guys to finish checks, I need guys to block shots, for Christ’s sake I need a guy to stand in front of the net! It’s still a good team, but with some more pieces it could once again be a great team.
Written by Chris Loughlin
Contact Chris on Twitter: @Clou85