8. 2011-12 Chicago Blackhawks (45-26-11)
The 2011-12 Chicago Blackhawks were coming off of a first-round playoff exit to the Vancouver Canucks. The young stars, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, proved themselves as key players for the second season in a row and put the NHL on notice. Young goalie, Corey Crawford, signed a three-year contract extension in the offseason.
Even though the team finished fourth in the division, they found themselves in the playoffs after beating Nashville 5-4 in late March 2012. This would mark their fourth straight playoff berth.
Patrick Sharp led the Blackhawks in goals scored with 33 goals. Marian Hossa added 48 assists, while both of those players helped Kane and Toews become stars. Patrick Kane had 66 points and played in all 82 games. Jonathan Toews would tally 76 points while playing in 80 games.
In the playoffs, the Chicago Blackhawks would face the then Phoenix Coyotes. This series was a rough one, it also was the series that saw Hossa knocked out on a dirty hit. That would keep Hossa out until December of 2012.
The Blackhawks would lose the series in six games, marking their second straight year losing in the first round. The talk in the off-season was if Corey Crawford was ready to take that next step. With Ray Emery as his backup, there would be a lot of pressure on the team heading into the 2012-13 NHL season.