Blackhawks

Blackhawks react to missing playoffs for second straight year

Blackhawks react to missing playoffs for second straight year

From 2009-17, the Blackhawks appeared in nine consecutive postseasons, five Conference Finals and captured three Stanley Cups. Even the years after they won championships, the Blackhawks took each of those final series' to seven games before being dethroned. They're just used to winning. 

So when the Blackhawks were officially eliminated from playoff contention in back-to-back seasons for the first time in the Kane and Toews era, it didn't sit well with the veterans who have always looked forward to this time of year. They want to get back to playing meaningful hockey in April and beyond.

Here's the reaction from the Blackhawks' core players on missing the playoffs again:

Captain Jonathan Toews:

"It’s disappointing, for sure. Having gone through what we went through last year, it was a lot of excitement and a lot of motivation trying to turn things around, coming into this year fresh and learning from or mistakes. But obviously there’s still some growing and some improvement and some experience we need to go through. I think that’s the biggest thing is letting this sink in and really identifying where we’ve gone wrong. There’s a lot of positives this season that we clearly didn’t see last year, whether it’s young guys stepping up and assuming more of a leadership position and feeling more comfortable in the locker room, and the guys that have been here for a while learning that no one really cares what you did years ago. We’ve gotta keep pushing ourselves to get better and better. The league’s getting better, our division’s getting better, so it’s tough. It’s a tough league. You’ve gotta give it everything you have and keep learning from some of your shortfalls.”

Patrick Kane:

"It's tough. It's just crazy that our season's gonna be over in five days and that's it for another year. Pretty frustrating, especially when I think a lot of us feel like we're in our prime and be able to contribute and had good seasons. But that's the way it is. There's obviously plays yourself you can look back at and say you could've done more here or there and had a bigger difference on the game. It's just the way it goes. Pretty disappointing for the second straight year not to be in the playoffs here and play hockey when it matters the most."

Corey Crawford:

"That's not very good. It's something I don't think [any] of us were expecting. We were pretty confident going into the year. I know this group definitely has the potential to win again. I don't know, a lot of games slipped away this year. We lost a lot of big games too. We just try and finish it out, play as hard as we can and try to finish on a good note, play the right way. And we got to do our work in the summer. I guess come back prepared and ready. ... For us, we want to win another Cup. Came up real short obviously."

Head coach Jeremy Colliton:

"We'd rather be in. I think we've had a pretty good second half but the hole was a little too deep. ... You can't win the Cup if you're not in. But I'll probably summarize it at the end. Now we got some games left to continue to improve, to continue to establish a mentality and a standard of how we want to play every night. So that's what we're going to focus on."

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Blackhawks able to hold group workouts starting Monday when NHL's Phase 2 begins

Blackhawks able to hold group workouts starting Monday when NHL's Phase 2 begins

On Thursday, the NHL announced that it will move to Phase 2 of its Return To Play Plan effective on Monday, June 8.

Teams like the Blackhawks will be allowed to open their practice facilities for off-ice and on-ice "individualized training activities". A maximum amount of six players, plus limited team staff, are permitted to be scheduled for workouts on a voluntary basis.

Per the NHL "participation (education, diagnostic testing, scheduling for medicals, etc.), can begin immediately." 

It was recently reported that team training camps to lead up to the 24-team postseason format wouldn't begin ahead of July 10. Under the format, the Blackhawks are set to take on the Edmonton Oilers in a best-of-5 play-in round.

The NHL paused on March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Breaking down Blackhawks' path to Stanley Cup in 24-team Return to Play format

Breaking down Blackhawks' path to Stanley Cup in 24-team Return to Play format

The NHL and NHL Players' Association officially ironed out the final details of its 24-team Return to Play format, which is another positive step in the right direction as both sides look to reach an overall agreement on resuming play.

Here's a brief rundown of the most notable items from Thursday's announcement:

— The qualifying round will be composed of a best-of-5 series while the four other rounds will be best-of-7. 

— The top four teams from each conference will play each other in a round-robin format to determine the No. 1-4 seeds. Regular season points percentage will serve as the tiebreaker.

— Instead of the traditional bracketed format in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the NHL will reseed after each round, with the highest remaining seed in each conference facing the lowest remaining seed, etc.

— In the qualifying round and first and second rounds, the higher-seeded team will be designated as the home team. In the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final, the team with the higher regular season points percentage will be considered the home team.

The details shouldn't come as much of a surprise. It was important to the players to maintain the integrity of the playoffs while making sure the teams that had a strong regular season were rewarded with a favorable path. For the Blackhawks, the challenge got a little more difficult but that was to be expected.

This is what the Western Conference playoff picture looks like:

1. St. Louis Blues 
2. Colorado Avalanche
3. Vegas Golden Knights
4. Dallas Stars

5. Edmonton Oilers vs. 12. Chicago Blackhawks
6. Nashville Predators vs. 11. Arizona Coyotes
7. Vancouver Canucks vs. 10. Minnesota Wild
8. Calgary Flames vs. 9. Winnipeg Jets

Should they upset the Oilers in the qualifying round, the Blackhawks would face the highest seed of the round-robin winner in the first round of the playoffs. Right now, that's the defending Stanley Cup champion Blues, who swept the Blackhawks in a regular-season series for the first time in their 53-year history. The Blackhawks went 0-4-0 and were outscored by the Blues 16-8 this season.

Here's how the Blackhawks fared against the three other top seeds in the West:

— 1-3-0 vs. Colorado with a minus-8 goal differential (19 goals for, 11 goals against)
— 1-1-1 vs. Vegas with a minus-2 goal differential (nine goals for, seven goals against)
— 1-1-1 vs. Dallas with a plus-2 goal differential (five goals for, three goals against)

If the Blackhawks advance past the first round, their path will only get tougher. As the last seed in their respective conference, they will draw the highest seed as each round progresses under the re-seeding format.

But nobody should be disappointed about that. The Blackhawks have been given new life and Chicago will take it.

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