What went wrong?
As you probably heard on TV or read elsewhere, the Blackhawks loss in Game 6 in the 1st round of the playoffs and their ultimate elimination were all because of problems that went unsolved or uncorrected year round.
Every person on Earth knows they struggled with the power play (ranking 26th in the league), the penalty kill (ranking 27th in the league), and beyond questionable goaltending (Crawford had the worst save percentage among goalies in the playoffs & 2nd worst goals against average). It was idiotic to think those issues would be magically solved for the playoffs. They gave up several big goals during the PK, were terrible on the PP (1-19) in the series, and Crawford gave up 2 costly, soft goals.
With the bad fortune the Blackhawks endured this season, it's a miracle their record didn't resemble that of the Columbus Blue Jackets. It began to rain excrement on the Hawks starting with Daniel Carcillo's injury at the beginning of the season. He was proving to be a key tool for the Hawks by surprising people with his skill and getting under team's skins early in games.
Who can forget the 9 - game skid, or as I called it "Suicide Watch 2011-2012."
Then the Captain, Jonathan Toews, gets such a bad concussion he misses the last 22 games of the regular season.
The black cloud would not disappear in the playoffs. After a Golden Globe - winning performance by master thespian Mike Smith, a hot Andrew Shaw is suspended for 3 games in the series. Soon after Raffi Torres tries to end Marian Hossa's career with an up in the air hit resembling a bad car accident. It was clear shoulder to head contact and the puck was no where near Hossa. No penalty was called on the play even though the linesman was just a few feet away and replays show that a referee up ice was staring at the hit.
What to look forward to?
Winning the games the Hawks did and beating top teams like the Blues, Wings, and Rangers consistently during their trials and tribulations highlighted the team's character and depth.
A healthy captain will lead the Hawks in the right direction early on in the season.
Bet on Stan Bowman and the Blackhawks organization addressing all of their obvious issues. The PK and PP will be fixed by acquiring a second line center, and possibly other top 6 forwards. Look for a play on a big D man to help give Crawford some confidence (don't think Crow is going anywhere but hope he works on his glove!).
The Dark Knights Rise: Carcillo will return tougher and chirpier than ever after sitting out most of the season. Hossa, who seemed to lose his mojo in the middle of the season, should return and get his groove back.
Although not considered top 6 forwards by many, Shaw and Kruger have very bright futures. Their speed and skill seemed to improve each game.
Lastly, hopefully someone will tell Kane it's okay for him to be greedy with his shots again. The Hawks truly missed his old trigger happy ways this season.
"It's always darkest before dawn."
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