All mediocre things come to an end… and the 2011-2012 Chicago Blackhawks season is no exception. The Blackhawks did not advance from the Quarterfinal series for the second playoff season in a row after falling in Game 6 last night to the Phoenix Coyotes 4-0 in regulation.
Okay, mediocre is a harsh way to put it, but no fan can say that this season is what we were promised or what we expected. General Manager, Stan Bowman, is not the only one stunned at the premature end to the season for the windy city team. Sure there have been blue line and goalie issues all season long that we’ve known about, but lady luck certainly was not on this franchises side considering the amount of time star goal scorers spent off the ice due to injury.
What went so so wrong:
Star Power: It’s easy to say that anytime the Blackhawks were not dominating their opponents on the ice, it was because leading goal scorers weren’t performing. Duh. It happened a lot on that nine-game road trip from h-e-double hockey sticks, and it was one of the leading themes in these past six playoff games. Not saying the home-town heroes weren’t out there busting their butts, last night being an example of just not catching a break when the Hawks led SOG by a landslide with no results.
It certainly is a disappointment to be out this early, but it’s also disappointing to have only 3 of 12 goals in six playoff games contributed by the big guys (Toews-2, Sharp-1). These expensive players are on the team for one reason, and they know it. It’s going to be an interesting summer for the Blackhawks figuring out who is worth their paycheck.
Injury: Jonathan Toews missed twenty-two games at the end of the season, making his return to the ice Game 1 against the Coyotes. Had the captain and (at the time) season leading goal scorer been there for those thirteen wins and nine losses, we might have pulled out a few more W’s and definitely a few more points.
Can’t say that confidence was lacking going into this series, Chicago knew it wouldn’t be a cake walk, but there was never really any doubt that they could pull through to the next round, even in seven games if they had to. What certainly shook things up a bit was losing Marian Hossa to a crushing and illegal hit by Coyotes’ Raffi Torres early in Game 3. That cost the Blackhawks a key player and possibly the series.
Injuries to star power player is bad news, especially if the team doesn’t have enough depth to make up for it, but the Hawk’s really don’t have this excuse, because time and again, it’s not the point leaders who find opportunities to deliver when we need it most. (Quarterfinal Goal Breakdown: Bickell-2, Frolik-2, Toews-2, Morrison-1, Brunette-1, Sharp-1, Seabrook-1, Leddy-1, Bollig-1).
Blue Line & Goalie: The Blackhawks need to get bigger. It’s no secret we lost our size factor in 2010, and it’s an issue that Bowman has been trying to address all season long. We need to be a bigger presence defensively to have any chance at a championship again. The other thing everyone has been singing about is how much Corey Crawford sucks. It’s really easy to point fingers at the guy in the net, and I’m not entirely defending the guy, but then again, neither has our blue line… Crawford has let in some easy goals that have made fans grab their torches and pitch forks sure, but the time spent on our side of the ice this year was also atrocious.
A lot needs to change for October, and it’s certainly going to be a long summer for the Blackhawks.
If you didn’t catch any of the post-game interviews they’re worth a watch. The frustration this team is feeling is obvious.
Now we decide who else we’re rooting for… thoughts?
Photo courtesy of chicitysports.com