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And then there were two: Blackhawks eliminated

Jun 1, 2014, 11:39 PM EDT

Los Angeles Kings v Chicago Blackhawks - Game Seven Getty Images

For more entries in this series, click here.

The Chicago Blackhawks were this close to making it to a second consecutive Stanley Cup Final. They were five playoff wins away from repeating as champions. Ultimately, the Los Angeles Kings won one of the best (and wildest) series in ages, leaving a powerful Chicago team asking itself some tough questions.

Let’s look back at the Blackhawks’ 2013-14 season:

  • No doubt about it, Corey Crawford‘s campaign ended on a sour note. That tends to happen when you allow 25 goals in your last six playoff games, many of which were ugly. Even so, those who can step back and look at the big picture may give Crawford a little more leeway and realize that he’s at least a solid starter. He went 32-16-10 with an acceptable .917 save percentage. He also went on some nice playoff runs, including a six-game winning streak in which he only allowed three goals once and had a shutout (from Game 3 against ST. Louis to Game 2 against Minnesota).
  • That being said, GM Stan Bowman needs to figure out a backup solution in case Crawford struggles in another playoff series. It seemed clear that Chicago had zero interest in turning to Antti Raanta even during Crawford’s darkest moments.
  • While the goaltending situation might leave some feeling a little sour, the overall picture of this Blackhawks team is still very bright.
  • For one thing, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews continue to distinguish themselves as elite performers. Both seemed to take turns dominating spans of this postseason and regular season. Bowman can lock up each player long-term, as their contracts will expire after the 2014-15 campaign.
  • Duncan Keith enjoyed the best (or second-best) season of his career, generating 61 points in a dominant year.
  • The knock on Chicago’s depth is that they struggled at the second center position. That’s true, but many believe that Teuvo Teräväinen has a chance to solve that riddle.
  • If nothing else, other young players showed promise, including Brandon Saad. Saad formed a dangerous combination with Kane and Andrew Shaw late in the Western Conference finals and could be another difference-maker, especially if the likes of Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp begin to decline.

It’s foolish to be excessively negative about Chicago after the Blackhawks fell one game short of the Stanley Cup Final, yet the organization will likely try to find a way to be even better next season. That’s a scary thought for the rest of the NHL.

  1. canucks30 - Jun 1, 2014 at 11:50 PM

    I think we’re going to be seeing a lot of the Chicago Blackhawks in the playoffs in the coming years.

    In particular, teams like Colorado, St. Louis and Minnesota getting a crack at overtaking them in the Rounds 1 and 2 year after year.

    • chanceoffleury - Jun 2, 2014 at 12:40 AM

      It’ll be interesting to see how generous Kane and Toews are with their contract negotiations this summer. At the end of the day both could easily ask for $72 million contracts and they’d get them. It seems like it’s a lot but it’s on par with what Malkin and Perry and Getzlaf have signed for recently. But if they’re willing to take a personal hit on their salary to add even a little bit of cap space to make the team more competitive it’d be a huge advantage for the Hawks. I mean the difference between them accepting 9 million dollar hits or 7.5 million dollar hits is, right now, about the same amount of cap that separates a Keith from a Rozsival. No doubt both will max out on the 8 years, but what they sign for, if they sign the same deal, etc. will be an interesting story to follow and a big event for a franchise with such a promising future.

      • footballfan - Jun 2, 2014 at 3:55 PM

        I agree that it would be nice for the Hawks if they could keep them both, but after having their names on the cup twice I wouldn’t count on a home town discount.

      • endusersolutions2013 - Jun 2, 2014 at 6:28 PM

        There is also the question of wanting to repeat, and they are in a great place popularity-wise in a MAJOR media market. Gotta keep the non-Hawks revenue in mind, as they would likely be taking a hit on that if they left.

  2. penvik - Jun 2, 2014 at 12:03 AM

    Pittsburgh over Chicago next year in 6 games!

    • dannymac17 - Jun 2, 2014 at 12:17 AM

      what?

      • thefutureofoil - Jun 2, 2014 at 2:58 AM

        Pittsburgh? Please.

    • doknyc - Jun 2, 2014 at 8:40 AM

      the idiot named penvik strikes again…. i thought i told you and crosby to migrate to the KHL…

  3. suesawicki2000 - Jun 2, 2014 at 12:04 AM

    Gotta love the way NBC doesn’t congratulate the Kings. Instead they have a whole article dedicated to the losers. Nice. I hate NBC. Somebody, please tell me they are not televising the Cup games.

    • govtminion - Jun 2, 2014 at 12:13 AM

      Yeah, it sucks that they’re doing the same thing for the Hawks here that they did for the other 13 teams to be eliminated so far. Really unfair of them.

      • comeonnowguys - Jun 2, 2014 at 10:15 AM

        You can’t expect Sue to start paying attention until the conference finals. Stop being unreasonable.

  4. nicofthenorthstar - Jun 2, 2014 at 12:12 AM

    Crawford was the reason Chicago got as far as they did. Weren’t going to get it done without stellar play from him, though they made it more interesting than I would have guessed. Now if the rangers, of the considerably lesser eastern conference, can win more than two games in the finals I will be surprised.
    On the other hand, a hot goaltender can steal a series. Go rags.

    • cybernetikghost - Jun 2, 2014 at 12:23 AM

      Crawford deserves the least amount of credit for the success that Chicago had this year in the post season. They have such a phenomenal team in front of him that they make him look good. He can play well when everyone else is at the top of their game, but if Chicago is having an off-night, he can’t be counted on to pick up the slack or steal games.

  5. nicofthenorthstar - Jun 2, 2014 at 12:16 AM

    NBC’s coverage is a joke. Their contract with the NHL is bad for the league and bad for the sport. If the goal is to get fewer viewers and less interest in the league among all age groups, then they have succeeded. Otherwise, like I said, horrible coverage.

    • joey4id - Jun 2, 2014 at 9:19 AM

      Interesting comment. I wouldn’t know because I watch games on CBC or TSN. Can you add a bit of meat here? Why is it a joke, and why is the coverage horrible?

    • caspermilktoast - Jun 2, 2014 at 11:20 AM

      As opposed to before NBC/VS/OLN was what? ESPN didn’t get serious with extended coverage with the NHL until playoffs. No chance going back there with their LEBRON love fest 24/7/365 – nor would I want them. All playoff series was covered by their networks and available for viewing. ESPN never had that. NBCSN has made hockey their “anchor sport” – what else more could you want from them – Keith Jones to come over and rotate the tires on your car between periods?

      • thesportsjudge - Jun 2, 2014 at 1:24 PM

        What is with the connection between NHL and automotive repair?

  6. windycity99 - Jun 2, 2014 at 12:31 AM

    Was I the only one hearing. The announcers tonight only talk about the kings. Everything the kings did was said to be skill, but everything the hawks did was luck. I’m not saying NBC doesn’t love the hawks, but I thought that was pretty annoying

  7. mackattack29 - Jun 2, 2014 at 12:34 AM

    Lol suck it all you bandwagoning Chicago fans.

    • comeonnowguys - Jun 2, 2014 at 10:16 AM

      I hope you are not a King fan saying that… because lol.

  8. billiam55 - Jun 2, 2014 at 12:41 AM

    from a NYR fan, Thank you Chicago and LA for one of the most entertaining series all year. Hawk fans you got a great team. This game could have went either way. And to LA fans, see you in the final.

    • killerpooh - Jun 2, 2014 at 1:19 AM

      Well said .. I’m looking for my tranquilizers right now. I don’t know if I could have taken much more of the OT. This was perhaps the greatest playoff series I have witnessed in a very long time.

      If the LAK-NYR series is half as frenetic, it will be great.

    • doknyc - Jun 2, 2014 at 8:42 AM

      bill,

      from another rangers fan, well said!

  9. blomfeld - Jun 2, 2014 at 12:53 AM

    ALEC MARTINEZ = COMO LA FLOR !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) :) :) :) :)

    • killerpooh - Jun 2, 2014 at 1:22 AM

      Alec Martinez is of Spanish (not Mexican) ancestry, but was born in Minnesota.

  10. hockeyornothing - Jun 2, 2014 at 1:30 AM

    Who cares where Martinez is from?
    He shoots he scores – that’s it in any language.

  11. slysipops - Jun 2, 2014 at 1:30 PM

    It’s A Wrap. And I Have Rumors.
    June 2, 2014, 6:44 AM ET [244 Comments]
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    John Jaeckel
    Chicago Blackhawks Blogger • RSS • Archive • CONTACT
    Follow JJ on Twitter @jaeckel!

    First off, kudos and congratulations to the L.A. Kings and their fans. What a great series.

    Second, you have to give credit to the Hawks. They left everything on the ice. But everything just wasn’t quite enough this year—so close, but not enough.

    They came within one sort of fluky goal of getting back to the Stanley Cup Finals in two consecutive years and possibly becoming the first repeat Champions in the salary cap era.

    But who—and hopefully not the Hawk front office—wants to rest on those laurels?

    The truth is, the Kings might not have matched the Hawks’ blueline depth (although, certainly, one of my favorites, Niklas Halmarsson, could take roasting this morning for falling asleep on Marian Gaborik’s game-tying goal with 7 minutes left), but the Hawks were outmatched up the middle (at center) and in terms of size/speed combination.

    And that’s where Stan Bowman needs to get busy this offseason.

    This organization can’t—and won’t—be satisfied with what just transpired. If anything, it’s testament to the character and talent they have. They just need some help this offseason.

    To that end, I have heard from two strong sources now that changes are coming.

    Specifically, the Hawks like their blue line depth, and they like their prospect blue line depth, so much that they just might be shipping one Johnny Oduya out (Calgary could be the team) for prospects and picks. Oduya’s spot would then be filled by a matriculating Nick Leddy (who can’t be blamed for L.A.’s game-wnning goal last night).

    The Hawks love prospects Stephen Johns and Klas Dahlbeck. Dahlbeck, a Hjalmarsson clone, is the closer of the two. He and a solid veteran would form the third pair.

    With the cap dollars recouped by moving Oduya and perhaps another asset in a deal, the Hawks could make a move on another center who fits somewhere on lines 2 or 3. Michal Handzus has had more lives than a cat. Andrew Shaw is probably better on the wing. That, in turn, has put too much pressure on Jonathan Toews and Marcus Kruger.

    Don’t be too terribly surprised also if the latest shiny object of the Hawk marketing machine, Teuvo teravainen, gets moved to bring back a center. You have to give to get. Teravainen is a really nice prospect with obvious upside. He’s also another 170 pound forward (the last thing the Hawks need) and might not be a center in the NHL either.

    Finally, I’m told the Hawks will make a move, if vancouver is entertaining, on center Ryan Kesler of the Canucks. Discussions took place with then-Vancouver GM Mike Gillis a few months ago.

    I’ll pass along more as I hear it.

    Wow. Tough way to lose, but no doubt, the Kings earned it.

  12. slysipops - Jun 2, 2014 at 2:24 PM

    you rang dr FRANKENSTIEN.?………………….. YES ..IGOR ……. TAKE BLOMFELD to the lab , sedate him and strap him to the table please…… i have to fill his mind with ideas for the RANGER SERIES !……………….

  13. jkaflagg - Jun 3, 2014 at 11:45 PM

    Corey Crawford reminds me of Chris Osgood, who back stopped a couple of very strong Detroit teams to the Cup but was unlikely to carry a team to a title himself….Hawks would be wise to keep him until they have identified a sure upgrade, and with the talented team around hi he could still bring home another Cup or two…..

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