Blackhawks

Stan Bowman, Joel Quenneville assess what went wrong for Blackhawks in 2017-18

Stan Bowman, Joel Quenneville assess what went wrong for Blackhawks in 2017-18

The Blackhawks have had a while to evaluate what went wrong this season, and how they went from a team that finished as a No. 1 seed in the Western Conference to missing the playoffs altogether in a span of one year.

But now that it's officially over, there's time to assess the bigger picture and figure out how to prevent this from happening again.

At the Blackhawks' end of the season press conference on Monday, Stan Bowman and Joel Quenneville spoke about where things may have gone sideways.

For starters, it didn't help that they lost two key core members for an extended period of time, one for the entire season.

"There's a couple factors, a couple of things are out of your control, in combination with things that were in your control," Bowman said. "I think losing Marian [Hossa] before the year started was quite a blow to our team. He had a great season last season, so that was difficult. And then we lost Corey [Crawford] for about half the year. It was certainly difficult to recover from both of those. But those were only factors.

"We had some other things that didn't go well. Some of our top players didn't have typical seasons for them. When you put that together, it made for quite a challenge for us to overcome. ... Injuries were certainly a factor, but they were not the only factor."

Defensively, the holes were magnified when Crawford went down and we highlighted them in our season takeaways over the weekend. That happens when you have an inexperienced blue line and lose your starting goaltender.

From an offensive standpoint, the Blackhawks controlled 52.3 percent of the 5-on-5 shot attempts, good for fourth in the league. In their three Stanley Cup-winning seasons, they finished first (2010), fourth (2013) and second (2015) in that department.

Clearly, they elevated their possession game back to the levels we're used to seeing after finishing 12th a year ago and 15th before that.

The difference is, the Blackhawks registered a 5-on-5 shooting percentage of only 7.12, which ranked 27th, and that'll certainly be an area they'll look to improve upon next season.

"Different than we’ve been accustomed to," Quenneville said. "I think that the way it all began it was almost like we were on a comparable season where we were competing night in, night out for playoff positioning, and then trying to secure it earlier than we would always like. And then it went the opposite way that we’re used to, so it was a different way of approaching it.

"I thought that we had some stretches there where our team game was pretty good. I thought as we had the second part of the year, I thought we got away from — whether it was structurally playing a real solid team game, which in the past has always been a strength — I thought we got away from that a litle bit.

"Offensively, I thought [playing] with the puck and our possession game wasn’t as strong as it has been in the past. So I think those two areas, when we’ve been one of those teams that game in, game out [have been] predictable, hard to play against, I thought we didn’t meet our usual standard of being that game in, game out making an impact on the intensity of the game and puck possession of the game and defending as a team. I think that’s the area we want to make sure we shore that up and that’s going to be a staple."

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Attempting to rebuild Blackhawks into a Stanley Cup contender

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Attempting to rebuild Blackhawks into a Stanley Cup contender

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Adam Burish joins Pat Boyle to answer your mailbag questions. Among the questions they tackle: What was your favorite moment from the Blackhawks’ past season and were you surprised that Joel Quenneville didn’t make any changes to his coaching staff? 

They also discuss re-signing Vinnie Hinostroza, backup goalie options for Corey Crawford and who do they like in the Jets-Predators second-round series?

Plus, Burish looks at the Penguins roster and sees some similarities to the Blackhawks’ situation and attempts to rebuild a Stanley Cup contender.

Listen to the full podcast right here:

Where do Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews rank among NHL jersey sales in 2017-18?

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Where do Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews rank among NHL jersey sales in 2017-18?

The NHL announced their final jersey sales from the 2017-18 regular season, and there's a new name at No. 1.

Reigning Calder Trophy winner Auston Matthews edged out last season's winner Sidney Crosby as the top-selling jersey after finishing fourth in 2016-17.

The Blackhawks may have missed the playoffs for the first time since Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were rookies, but that's not stopping fans from purchasing their merchandise.

Each of them stayed inside the top 10, although it's a drop-off from a year ago when Kane was second and Toews was third.

Here what the rest of the Top 15 looked like: