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Chicago Blackhawks’ Playoff Collapse Offers Plenty Of Blame, Few Answers

gclifford
Apr 20, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35) and Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) shake hands after game four of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena. The Predators won 4-1 to eliminate the Blackhawks. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 20, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35) and Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) shake hands after game four of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena. The Predators won 4-1 to eliminate the Blackhawks. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Chicago Blackhawks are sharing plenty of blame, but no easy answers after their stunning first-round blowout loss to the Nashville Predators

In his first public statement since the Chicago Blackhawks were unexpectedly swept from the playoffs in four straight losses to the Nashville Predators, ‘Hawks general manager Stan Bowman blasted the entire organization while using the term “unacceptable” three separate times to describe the Blackhawks’ playoff performance.

These days “unacceptable” is the descriptor most often used by the disempowered when things don’t go their way due to somebody else’s failure.

While Bowman took a bit of the blame himself, his perfunctory admission didn’t appear much more sincere than United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz’s apology last week after a paying-passenger was forcibly dragged off a UA fight to make room for a late-arriving airline employee.

And just like Munoz, you can be sure that Bowman will still be around next year after all the post-playoff housecleaning is done this summer.

It’s a conspiracy!

As you might suspect, there have been a host of theories to explain the Blackhawks’ collapse, ranging from merely plausible to the truly preposterous.

It would hardly be surprising to see a claim that Russian strongman Vladimir Putin and his master hackers were behind the ‘Hawks’ demise, or that White House spokesmodel Sean Spicer would point to Chicago’s loss as “fake news,”, concocted by George Soros and his ultra-liberal NBC network lackeys, and that more favorable “alternative” playoffs might be viewed over on Fox News!

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But reality is more mundane. Much like the previous year, the Blackhawks struggled early in the regular season, but still managed to stay at or near the top of the Central Division, riding the hot goaltending of Corey Crawford and timely scoring by Marian Hossa.

But after missing three weeks in December while recovering from an emergency appendectomy, Crow never quite regained the league-leading 5-on-5 form he showed prior to his illness.

So then the ‘Hawks muddled through January playing .500 hockey until Feb. 2, when rookie Nick Schmaltz joined Jonathan Toews and Richard Panik on the top line, and the team took flight on a 25-game run that led the Western Conference in wins (19), points (40) and goals scored (89).

By March 31, they had pretty much wrapped up both the division and conference titles, but loafed through the last week of the season, losing their last four games. Still, the Blackhawks entered the playoffs as prohibitive favorites to make it to the Final.

The rest is history

As we all know, the ‘Hawks then went on to score a total of three goals over four consecutive losses to Nashville, in what Bowman rightfully called “a complete failure when you measure it against the expectations we have of ourselves.”

The Preds totally dominated the ‘Hawks in every aspect of the game with speed and intensity that Chicago simply could not match. Luck and bounces generally follow the better team over time, and the Preds claimed all of them, including some controversial calls by the refs.

Next: Chicago Blackhawks Leave Big Staff Questions For Summer

All the miserable series stats have been documented ad nauseam, so I’ll finish this post with my own brief analysis of the Blackhawks’ catastrophic failure, the pure essence of which was most eloquently stated by “Seinfeld” character Cosmo Kramer: “You stink!”

Let’s hope for a better result in 2018 — it can’t get here soon enough!

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