clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Blackhawks fail to deliver on playoff promise

Chicago showed signs of being a playoff-caliber team, but were unable to show up when it needed to the most.

Chicago Blackhawks v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

It’s over.

After a 1-0 loss to the Coyotes on Tuesday night, there’s no way to avoid the reality: the Blackhawks are not going to be part of the Stanley Cup Playoffs — again.

Mathematical probabilities have not eliminated them yet, but reality has. In yet another crucial game for the Blackhawks, they came up empty. And, as a result, they’ll be heading to the golf courses after next Saturday’s game in Nashville.

Chicago’s playoff hopes nearly flatlined two other times this season. There was the 22-game stretch in November and December that saw the Blackhawks win just three times, a span that cost former head coach Joel Quenneville his job. After the Hawks won 10 of 12 to get back into the hunt, just as they were about to cement their status in the wild-card chase, they promptly lost four of five to again dash postseason dreams. A five-game winning streak briefly brought that hope back before this latest malaise snuffed it out for good.

This was supposed to be a playoff team.

At least, that’s what the front office said from the beginning of the season and team president and CEO John McDonough reaffirmed after firing Quenneville in November. But for the second straight season, it is not. And there aren’t as many excuses to be claimed this time around, no massive chunk of playing time missed by the team’s No. 1 goaltender Corey Crawford to pin the team’s struggles on.

No, this team simply failed to deliver on what its front office promised.

There will be plenty of time to examine every angle of that sentence. The blame can be assigned everywhere: to the front office for not acquiring proper personnel, to coaching staffs for not managing that personnel properly and to players themselves for not always performing to their capabilities. The distribution of that blame will be a focal point of the upcoming weeks and months on this website.

The negatives are obvious. This season will waste a career year from Patrick Kane along with resurgent seasons for Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad. Another season lost means that Chicago’s remaining core of Toews, Kane, Crawford, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook all age another year. And the Blackhawks defense remains a massive question mark going forward.

No one will call this season a success, but classifying it a total failure seems harsh due to the positive developments of the last six months. Alex DeBrincat is on the verge of a 40-goal season. Midseason acquisitions like Dylan Strome and Drake Caggiula should be part of future Chicago rosters. And, in the last few weeks, Crawford has looked like the version of Crawford that ended up dropping F-bombs on live TV — twice.

For the second spring in a row, the Blackhawks will head to the golf course instead of the playoffs. The future doesn’t seem quite as bleak as it did one year prior, thanks to a bevy of young talent that have emerged at the NHL level (Strome, DeBrincat, Caggiula) and within the system (Henri Jokiharju, Adam Boqvist, Ian Mitchell, Nicolas Beaudin). Whether or not all that talent can come together at the NHL level, however, remains a massive uncertainty. One thing does seem certain, however. McDonough said in February that general manager Stan Bowman’s job was “absolutely” safe. If Chicago’s playoff drought extends to a third season, though, it’s hard to believe Bowman’s job remains that way.