With the Chicago Blackhawks‘ season ending on Monday with a brutal 4-0 loss to the Coyotes in game 6, Blackhawks players and staff are disappointed with the early end. Members of the media are also discussing whether the Hawks are a disappointment this season or not. It is obvious now, that this team just didn’t have what it took to go all the way.
With the early exit, people are glad Marian Hossa will have plenty of time to heal from his injury. He missed the most of game 3 and all of games 4-6. Hawks head coach said that the hit on Hossa by Raffi Torres was the turning point of the series.
Even though the Hawks were the more star-studded team who had more points on the season, they couldn’t defeat the Phoenix Coyotes. There are a lot of reasons why the Hawks were knocked out in round one but the main reason was Mike Smith. Mike Smith helped the Phoenix Coyotes win their first playoff series since 1987.
But for now all Hawks fan can do it sit and wonder what went wrong.
While many fans are still in shock of the Hawks’ exit, the first place, Vancouver Canucks are just as stunned being beaten by the 8th seed L.A. Kings. For once, the Canucks and Hawks have something in common, they are both out of the playoffs in the first round.
But for some of the Blackhawks, hockey isn’t over. Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp will complete in the World Hockey Championship on Team Canada. Viktor Stalberg will play for Sweden. Patrick Kane was offered to play on Team U.S.A but turned it down to get ready for the Hawks next season and focus on that. Captain Jonathan Toews also turned down playing on Canada due to concussion issues he has had this year.
Now, all fans can do it wait until the 2012-2013 season starts in October and hope that some moves were made that will actually help this team in the long run (without a complete roster overhaul) and of course hope Hossa will be back on the ice and make a full recovery.
Tuesday night at the United Center was an absolute disgrace. In game three of the 2012 playoffs, Marian Hossa left on a stretcher.
In the first period, Phoenix forward Raffi Torres, hit Hossa. Torres’ hit was late and he completely left his feet.
Not one of the four referees saw the hit. Torres was not thrown out of the game; he didn’t even receive a minor penalty.
Now, I personally was at this game, and it was beyond scary. Hossa lay on the ice for probably over five minutes and was helped by staff onto a stretcher and was taken to a nearby hospital. While on the ice, it didn’t look like he could move.
In game two, rookie Andrew Shaw, unintentionally ran into Phoenix goaltender, Mike Smith. Smith fell to the ice like he was shot. The whole Phoenix organization claimed it was a blind side hit (even though Shaw was skating towards the front of Smith) and deliberate.
Shaw was suspended for three games.
All Phoenix did was complain at how bad the hit was, but now the roles are reversed.
After the game Torres said, “I thought it was a hockey play. I’m just trying to finish my hit out there.”
Phoenix head coach, Dave Tippett kept saying he didn’t see the video of the hit and thought it was a hockey play.
Coyote’s captain Shane Doan said, “I didn’t see it, I haven’t seen it, but from what I was told it wasn’t bad.”
Obviously, the Hawks team has completely different views on the horrendous hit.
Coach Q said it made him sick and called the referring a “disgrace.” He also called the hit brutal.
And Jonathan Toews said “It wouldn’t surprise me if he tried to do something like that again.”
Toews was also very upset because he said he heard the Phoenix bench laughing as Hossa was being strapped to a stretcher.
What makes this hit even worse was that this was the same player (Torres) that illegally hit Chicago’s Brent Seabrook’s head during game three of last year’s playoffs. He was not suspended for the hit and Seabrook missed game four and five with a concussion.
Raffi Torres, a fourth line nobody, is a repeat offender and his illegal hit left a star player being wheeled out on a stretcher.
If his suspension is anything less than ten games, expect outrage throughout Chicago.
But even if Torres is suspended for 30 games, it won’t matter. He is a fourth line energy player, completely replaceable, while Hossa is one of the best two way forwards in the league. No matter what, this is a lose-lose for Chicago.
All we can do is hope Hossa is okay. The Blackhawks released a statement saying Hossa left the hospital and is being watched closely at home. There is no timetable for his return.
What the Hawks need to do now is make the Coyotes pay on the scoreboard and win the series.
Phoenix won game three in overtime and now holds a 2-1 series advantage.
It is all set.
During the regular season Chicago went 1-2-1 against the Coyotes, but none of that matters once game one starts on April 12.
It took until the last day of the regular season to find out whom the Hawks would play. It was between Nashville, San Jose, LA or Phoenix. But since the Hawks won their last game against Detroit in a shootout (by an unbelievable goal by Patrick Kane) they solidified the sixth spot. Phoenix won their last game, which gave them the third seed.
So, here we are, Chicago versus Phoenix.
This will mark the first time the two teams have faced each other in the post season. They seem to be very different in style, the Hawks being the offensive juggernaut and the Coyotes being the defensive team. Chicago definitely has the bigger names and more fire power but the Coyotes seem to have the edge in goal as of now.
Mike Smith (38-18-10) has a save percentage of .930 and goals allowed a game of 2.21, he also has eight shut outs. Three of those shut outs came in consecutive games.
He has pretty good numbers, but lacks playoff experience.
The Coyotes are also on a five game winning streak heading into the playoffs.
Chicago’s goaltender, Corey Crawford, is on the complete opposite side of the spectrum. He posted no shut outs (Crawford and Emery both failed to get shut outs, making Chicago the only team in the league this year to have zero shut outs) and his numbers are on the lower side of average. But the defense in front of him for the first half of the season was not at it’s best either.
Crawford has played better in the last month and a half, the Hawks need him to play consistent and stop the shots he needs to.
The Chicago Blackhawks are 12-2-4 in their last 18 games of the season, and that is all without Captain Jonathan Toews, and Duncan Keith for five games (suspension).
The question facing the Hawks is Toews; will he play?
Toews has been cleared for contact and was practicing with the team. Toews and Coach Q are very confident he will suit up and play in game one, which could be series changing.
With names like Toews, Kane, Sharp, Hossa, Bolland and Stalberg, it might prove to be too much for the Yotes.
The sixth seeded Hawks have more points then the Coyotes, but since Phoenix captured their division, they claim the third seed. So, the Coyotes will have home ice advantage if the series were to go to a game seven.
But, it is well known that the Coyotes do not have a strong following. During the regular season, there are usually more Hawks fans in the crowd in Glendale. It is pretty much a guarantee that Chicago fans will make the trip to support their team, so it could pretty much be like a home game for the Hawks.
Also, Phoenix does not have a very good home record, which can help the Hawks out.
This series could go either way, but unless Mike Smith stands on his head for the entire series and Crawford has a huge meltdown, Chicago should be able to advance to the second round, which, if everything goes right, means another round with the Vancouver Canucks.
The first four games are Thursday, April 12, Saturday, April 14 in Phoenix and April 17 and 19 in Chicago.
My prediction: Blackhawks in 6 Games
10. 2011-2012 Season Home Opener
The first home game of the season, the Hawks won the game against the Dallas Stars.
9. Vancouver Overtime
Anytime the Hawks beat the Vancouver Canucks it is a great moment for fans. And when it is in overtime it is even sweeter. On March 21, the newest Blackhawk Johnny Oduya shot the puck that deflected off Andrew Shaw’s leg.
8. Jonathan Toews Penalty Shots
Toews made Blackhawks history by scoring on two penalty shots in two different games.
7. Patrick Sharp Hat Trick
On November 25, 2011 The Hawks started the third period down by two goals against the Anaheim Ducks. Patrick Sharp would score twice to take the lead and complete the hat trick.
6. Hull and Mikita Statues
Two former Blackhawks and two of the greatest to ever play the game of hockey, Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita, became immortalized at the United Center. The two players are now bronze statues.
During the very emotional ceremony Hull said, “The only thing I can say is this likely is without argument the greatest evening of my life.”
During Mikita’s moving speech, he said, “That this immigrant from Slovakia should be honored for his hard work with this incredible statue is something I never thought would ever happen. I’m humbled and awed by this amazing honor.”
5. Corey Crawford’s Huge Save
The save Crawford made in Nashville on March 31 was arguably one of his best of the season. The Hawks would win this game against their division rival, and Crawford was a huge reason why.
4. Spin-o-rama Pass
Patrick Kane is undeniably one of the greatest playmaker in the NHL today. He takes this play from former Hawks Denis Savard. This set up was one of the best plays in the entire 2011-2012 season.
3. Kane Shootout Goal
This could easily be one of the best goals of the season. The amount of skill and patience it took to pull this off in amazing. At the time, the Wild were the number one team in the league and the win was a big one.
2. Clinch Playoffs
In the same game against the Nashville Predators, the win by the Hawks would ensure them a trip to the post season for the fourth straight year.
1. April 7, 2012 (Hopefully)
Jonathan Toews has been out for 21 consecutive games with a concussion. He will be with the team in Detroit for the last regular season game and there is a big chance that Toews will be back on the ice. If he can play again this will be the greatest moment for the team and all Hawks fans.