It’s still hard to believe that the first seed Chicago Blackhawks lost to the eighth seed Nashville Predators. Yet they were swept in four games. In hindsight, we should have seen the signs.
In the regular season, the Chicago Blackhawks had 50 wins, and finished first in the Western Conference. Going into the playoffs, the Hawks were a favorite to win the Stanley Cup. Yet this past Thursday, they bowed out in an embarrassing first round exit to the Nashville Predators. They couldn’t win even one game. As a matter of fact, they only managed three goals in said four games!
It’s been a few days now since this travesty. Is the sting a little less? Have you come to terms with this horrific defeat? Yeah, I haven’t either.
We may all still be stunned, but if we’re honest with ourselves, we should have seen this coming. The fact of the matter remains that the Chicago Blackhawks far surpassed expectations during the regular season. We as fans were spoiled by this, and were in denial of some glaring weaknesses. Weaknesses that were greatly exposed during the playoffs by a surging Predators team. In a sense, things finally caught up to the Chicago Blackhawks. This loss to the Nashville Predators was a perfect storm of sorts. I’d like to further dissect this below.
Lack of possession.
The Hawks were built on being a possession team. Possess the puck, and you will win games. As a matter of fact, most other teams in the NHL have been trying to emulate this, including the Predators. Unfortunately, the Hawks’ possession numbers have been dipping ever since they won the Cup in 2015. In the regular season, they defied the odds by winning in unorthodox ways. They scored clutch goals. They were supported by solid goaltending.
In the playoffs, things tighten up. As we saw, the clutch goals went away. Their defense was exposed for what it was, too old and too slow. Corey Crawford was hung out to dry, and could only do so much. It was the Nashville Predators that had the better possession numbers, and they therefore dominated play. The Hawks were beaten by their own game.