For an entire summer that fateful game seven in the quarterfinals versus the Vancouver Canucks as probably replayed in many of our heads. As much as I wanted to see our Chicago Blackhawks win, even then I was never really too upset that they have lost, though who can argue with pure joy it would have been to once again beat those Canucks. I firmly believe it was for this game seven loss we would not see Chicago Blackhawks we do today, for multiple reasons.
First and foremost, I don't think really anybody can disagree with was Hawks were a tired team due to the last month of the season. They had fought battled, scrapped, clawed done everything they could to try to secure that last playoff spot, and it was apparent that the team was tired for the playoffs.
So here is my reasoning of why I'm not disappointed the Blackhawks lost in that round and how it actually benefited them to be the team that they are now.
First: As I mentioned they were tired physically and emotionally. The team never got it together until the very end, and by that point the physical drain was so much that they could not beat the other team. A long Summer off provided them the opportunity to rest physically and emotionally, and I think we are seeing the dividends of that today. The Blackhawks we see now are full of energy. They're focused and they have the drive to win, something we did not see until nearly February or March of last season, last year they had to deal with the Stanley Cup hangover, this year they don't. They had the extra two months to rest emotionally and physically, too recharge your batteries their mind and body. We can see this on the ice game in and game out today, with the exception of probably Carolina game. Out of the 13 games it played, perhaps only two or three were not the full and best effort compared to the rest. I think this can be chalked up to being able to rest for the summer.
Second: With the fatigue as a factor and the early playoff exit, it did not allow the Blackhawks to sit on their laurels. They could not walk away thinking that they were a better team, that they had to improve on the ice. They went out and made trades, made Cap Space and acquired new personnel, to improve the quality of the team on various aspects. If the Hawks had won the series with Vancouver, there's still a good chance they could beat the next team, and this would've only reinforced the notion that they had the team to win then and now and perhaps not be as aggressive inquiring the new pieces. Would the Hawks have been as focused on adding grit and depth as they were after the first round loss, as they would've been if they had gone to the conference finals again? Perhaps yes, perhaps not, but the first round loss definitely added to the sense of urgency to fix things.
Third: Combining one and two, the fatigue both mentally and physically, and the lack the depth and grit that the Hawks did not have, the Hawks did not have a team ready or capable to go to the Stanley Cup finals, let alone win the holy Grail. Adding another deep playoff run, in addition to the previous two seasons would've only lead to a more drained team by start the season, and perhaps a team that did not self evaluate and reflect on itself after a first-round loss.
Like as I mentioned before I would've loved to have seen Patrick Sharp's goal in overtime to win and beat Roberto Luongo, and not see a Vancouver triumph. But at the end of the day, I do not think the Hawks had what was needed to successfully defend their title come the first round. By beating Vancouver in the first round would've only been delaying the inevitable, and perhaps bloating heads, preventing good moves and NOT resting for the next campaign. I do not believe in playing just for next season if you can win this season, but IMO I do not think the Hawks had enough left to win it again that year
I think the 2011-12 Hawks today are a better team because of their shortcomings in the 2011 playoffs. That by losing to the Vancouver Canucks it required them to look at themselves much more critically then they would have if they had won. I think this loss is directly responsible to both their better physical and mental health today, and the team they put together this season.