Defending Stanley Cup Champions, Chicago Blackhawks, were eliminated from the first round of the Playoffs on Monday night, where the St. Louis Blues beat them in the final game of their series.
The Blackhawks lost 3-2 in the Seventh game of the series, Blues forward Troy Brouwer scoring the winning goal with 11 minutes left in the 3rd period. The former Blackhawk’s goal meant that last year’s champions could no longer defend their championship.
Chicago has won three Stanley Cups in the past six years, however they have not won back-to-back championships, a feat that was last done by Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998. However, losing out in the first round of the playoffs probably wasn’t the goal for the Blackhawks.
General Manager Stan Bowman didn’t make great trades this season. The GM traded seasoned player, Patrick Sharp to Dallas Stars for Trevor Daley and Ryan Garbutt, and now both players are elsewhere playing for teams that are still in the playoffs.
Bowman hasn’t made all bad decisions. The signing of rookie, Artemi Panarin, has seen the Hawks’ goal’s for go up significantly. The 24-year-old Russian scored 30 goals and racked up 47 assists for his team this year, becoming the leading points scorer for rookies this season. Despite having such a powerhouse on the team, Chicago managed to fall to the Blues.
Andrew Shaw’s attitude late in Game 4 caused an unnecessary distraction for Chicago. The 24-year-old used a homophobic slur after being penalised for interference against Jay Bouwmeester. Shaw received a one game suspension for his behaviour on ice. Losing the well performing forward in such a vital time for the Blackhawks probably wasn’t the best thing.
The overall performance for the Hawks has not been the best this season, and it showed in the playoffs. Captain Jonathan Toews only scored 28 goals in the regular season, and scored zero in the seven game playoff series. The first time Toews has never scored in the playoffs in his professional career.
For former champions their season has not been the best. With a lot of their trades failing, it’s hard to see how Chicago can pick themselves up for next season. With two players on $10.5million contracts, the cash strapped team have a wage cap to abide by; it will definitely be interesting to see if the Blackhawks can be more competitive next season and show why they won the Stanley Cup in 2015.