Blackhawks: When The Blue Line Fell Apart For Chicago
By Ryan Fedrau
The Chicago Blackhawks quickly went from one of the best defensive teams in hockey to one of the worst after 2017. What truly happened?
There are a few key reasons why the Chicago Blackhawks struggled against Nashville, and then after Nashville, from 2017-on-up. The biggest reason was their defense, more so lack-of-a-defense.
Chicago was one of the best defensive teams in the league under Joel Quenneville. They had some of the best defensive players that helped lead them to 3 Stanley Cups in 6-seasons. The dynasty was built and was backed by a solid defensive core that could play big minutes.
The best player on that defensive core was Duncan Keith. Keith never truly fell off of the cliff the rest of the defense did – but one good player on defense isn’t enough to win a Stanley Cup.
The issues started with Brent Seabrook not being able to keep up anymore. As we know now, Seabrook was dealing with a great deal of hip and shoulder pain for the last 5-10 seasons. It really caught up with him in that series and continued to catch up with him until he had surgery.
Michal Rozsival just wasn’t the same player he was in 2015. Rozsival was 38, he only played in 22-games, and became expendable.
Johnny Oduya was in the same boat as Rozsival. Oduya was with the Hawks for his second stint, but played just in 15-games, as he was traded to Chicago near the deadline. While on the ice, Oduya wasn’t the same player as he was during the Stanley Cup runs – he just didn’t have that same drive he once had.
Bringing back Brian Campbell to be a defenseman for 80-games seemed good until the playoffs. He became a glairing issue in that series against Nashville. It was again, another aging player that didn’t have that same drive on the ice as he once did while winning Stanley Cups.