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What Went Wrong: Chicago Blackhawks

Apr 27, 2011, 6:30 PM EST

Corey Crawford AP

It’s tough to say that a lot went wrong for the Blackhawks as the eighth seed taking the top seeded Canucks to seven games and losing in overtime. After all, they backed into the playoffs on the last day of the season and didn’t have much expected of them and still nearly pulled off what would’ve been one of the most stunning upsets of all time.

So just what went wrong for Chicago? There’s a few nit picks to be had here.

1. You just can’t go down 0-3 in a series
It seems like pretty standard logic that the key to winning a best of seven series would be to not go down 3-0 in the series and put yourself on the brink of losing the rest of the way. Chicago getting shutout in Game 1 and then giving Vancouver fits in Games 2 and 3 were signs that things would turn around, but it’s hard to expect that any team can just up and lose four in a row in the playoffs like that (sorry Boston fans). Yes, Chicago played outstanding for the latter part of the series, but coming away short to start put their backs against the wall immediately. It’s tough to ask any team, defending champs or not, to fight back out of a hole like that.

2. Anyone seen the captain?
Jonathan Toews is without a doubt the top guy on the Blackhawks roster. He’s the team captain, he’s the unquestionable leader in the locker room. He also saved his only goal of the series for the right moment in tying the game late in the third period of Game 7. Toews had just one goal and three assists in the seven game series and while he deserves all the credit in the world for netting that shorthanded goal, he wasn’t getting it done the other six games. While Chicago got big performances from Duncan Keith and Dave Bolland, Toews was virtually invisible. For a captain that’s not good enough especially when his team needed that one extra jolt. Don’t expect Toews to take this lightly and he’ll be more focused and scarily motivated next year.

3. No defensive help
Duncan Keith played like a man possessed in this series. He led the team with four goals and two assists. As for the other Chicago defensemen… Well, they weren’t so good. The combination of Brian Campbell, Brent Seabrook, Chris Campoli, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Nick Leddy, and John Scott all combined for one goal and six assists. Six players with seven points ain’t helping out. While they had their hands full in trying to contain the Canucks offense on their own, they certainly weren’t giving the rest of the team a lift offensively. It’s almost fitting that Campoli’s misplay that led to Alex Burrows‘ game winner in overtime is what did them in.

***

Chicago had a lot to deal with this year. From having so much roster turnover to figuring out that Corey Crawford was the man in goal to the run of the mill injuries throughout the year it was a bit much to ask of a defending champion to deal with. Still, Chicago’s got nothing to be sorry about.

Things broke right for them to get into the playoffs and they seized the day about as well as any team could from their position. And besides, if Nashville is able to stun Vancouver by making them look slow to the task, the Predators can give a “thank you” nod to Chicago for helping make life easier on them. They’ll be back again next year and likely even scarier.

  1. honestbleeps - Apr 27, 2011 at 6:43 PM

    I’m not sure how much of the season and/or series you really watched, but I’ve got to call out your 3rd point, as it’s virtually backwards.

    Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook both had not only “subpar” seasons, but BAD seasons. While Duncan Keith finally scored some points in a couple of games this series, he also made a lot of irresponsible plays, and got pinned in his own zone along with his D partner for long periods of time far too often.

    You’ve judged the defense almost entirely on their offensive contributions – which isn’t an entirely invalid thing to look at, but it’s certainly VERY incomplete.

    Had Keith and Seabrook played to anywhere near their respective levels of play last year, the series would have been much different. It’s hard for the offense to get much going when the defense can’t seem to successfully clear the zone.

  2. tommytd - Apr 27, 2011 at 7:44 PM

    It’s probably good for a young team to experience a bit of adversity. They will come back next year stronger than ever and hopefully with a bit of a chip. Thanks for a great season Blackhawks!

  3. polegojim - Apr 28, 2011 at 12:40 AM

    Yep, 0-3 just too deep of a hole. Great effort though.

    This one will scar the Canucks for the next series with second guesses and lack of confidence.

    Even in winning the series, that was a horrendous melt-down.

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