Game 7 loss, elimination 'really doesn't feel right' to Blackhawks

Game 7 loss, elimination 'really doesn't feel right' to Blackhawks

ST. LOUIS – Brent Seabrook’s shot caromed off one goal post before skidding through the blue paint and hitting the other, remaining out of the net.

In all of their success these past few seasons, the Blackhawks have gotten the clutch performances and some of those bounces. They didn’t get enough of either this postseason. And for the first time since 2012, the Blackhawks are done playing hockey in April.

Andrew Shaw scored his fourth goal of the series but former Blackhawks forward Troy Brouwer supplied the winner as the St. Louis Blues eliminated the Blackhawks 3-2 in Game 7 of their first-round series on Monday night.

The Blackhawks are done after the first round for the first time since 2012, when the Arizona (then Phoenix) Coyotes eliminated them in six games.

That team was still trying to rebuild after the post-2010 Stanley Cup purge. This one felt it could go farther, and was tremendously disappointed that it didn’t.

“Huge disappointment for me,” said coach Joel Quenneville. “We didn’t get that excitement factor, we didn’t get that investment to take off.”

[WATCH: Brent Seabrook's shot attempt in third period hits both posts]

The Blackhawks went to the Jonathan Toews-Patrick Kane combination heading into Game 5. Pairing them usually leads to scoring. But not this time: Kane had one goal and Toews had none. Nevertheless, the Blackhawks nearly advanced despite Toews' and Kane’s quiet postseason.

“You get that feeling that it’s going to be one of those things again, we feel from the get-go this season that we got the team to do it again,” Toews said. “I guess it’s obviously a long regular season and you get a tough matchup like St Louis, I guess at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter when you look at the other teams we could have been up against in our division, we’re gonna get a tough matchup in the first round. For a while people were saying this series looked like it was probably going to come down to one goal at the end, and it did.”

Yes it did.

And as much as the Blackhawks were denied on a bounce in their attempt to tie the game, the Blues took advantage of a bounce when they went ahead. Brouwer’s first shot, off a Robby Fabbri pass, hit the post. But he steadied himself and backhanded it past Corey Crawford to give the Blues that lead 8:31 into the third period.

“That was the ugliest goal I've ever scored and probably the most timely goal I've ever scored,” Brouwer said. “I was joking with [broadcaster Darren Pang] that if I didn't put that one in I might quit hockey. I just tried to stay with it; knowing the magnitude of the game, knowing how everything's been going. We've been having great opportunities but haven't been able to put them in.”

The Blackhawks were down 2-0 just 14 minutes into this one, thanks to goals from Jori Lehtera and Colton Parayko.

But just as they had come back from a two-game deficit in the series and a two-goal deficit in Game 6, the Blackhawks came back to tie this one. Marian Hossa scored late in the first period and Shaw added his power-play goal in the second. But that’s where the comeback stopped.

Crawford stopped 23 of 26 in the loss.

“It just doesn’t really feel right. Pretty quick right after to put everything right after into words. Obviously not the outcome we were looking for,” said Kane. “It’s not the exact start you want when you go down 1-0 first shift. That was disappointing. We fought back to get it to 2-2. Obviously they got that goal there in the third and you’re trying to play catch-up again. Maybe one too many times in the hole.”

The Blackhawks aren’t used to this, being done so early in the postseason. They’ve had a lot of success lately but that doesn’t take the sting away this spring. They thought they had enough to make a run at another Cup. They thought they had one more comeback in them. They didn’t.

“Obviously the last three years we’ve had a lot of success in the playoffs,” Duncan Keith said. “I think it’s fun. This is what we play for: these type of games, and these series and playing late into the year. It’s fun having short summers. Obviously, we’re going to have a longer summer this year.”

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?


Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Adam Burish and Pat Boyle discuss which Blackhawks could be on the trading block and what players are building blocks for the Hawks future.

Burish also shares a couple memorable trade deadline days and his “near” return to the Blackhawks in 2012. Plus, he makes his bold trade deadline prediction for the Hawks.

Listen to the full Blackhawks Talk Podcast right here: