ST. LOUIS – The time ticked away for the Blackhawks a lot faster than normal this postseason.
Gone is the chance to win back-to-back Stanley Cups, something an NHL team hasn’t done in about 20 seasons. The Blackhawks were stunned and frustrated moments after their 3-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues, who eliminated them in seven games. For hockey fans, it was a thrilling series full of twists, turns and one-goal games. For the Blackhawks, it was a bitter pill to swallow.
But there it is nonetheless. So before we make that one final drive up Interstate 55, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ loss to the Blues.
1. It’s a former teammate’s moment. Troy Brouwer joked on Sunday that his Game 7 record wasn’t the greatest; he was 2-4 entering this one. But he made up for that record with his game- and series-winning goal for the Blues. The Blues didn’t have much Game 7 experience coming into this one; certainly not compared to the Blackhawks. Brouwer, who won a Cup with the Blackhawks in 2010, gave the Blues the big-game experience, and goal, the team needed. Said Brouwer on scoring the winner, “It means a lot to me. It means a lot to the team and the franchise. We've had a long, tough season and to see us get rewarded like this, especially against a division rival like the Hawks in such dramatic fashion, it’s all smiles around here right now.”
2. Tough series for Jonathan Toews. Last postseason, Toews had some of the team’s biggest goals at the most critical times (please see Game 7 against the Anaheim Ducks in last spring’s Western Conference final). Toews had six assists in this series, but no goals. It was a surprise sight, considering Toews usually has a say in games like this. Toews said, “There’s always second-guessing and thinking what you could’ve done differently. I like to think I had my chances and times in the past. Kept telling myself, I think it was going to be an important time where I find a way to score a big one and right to the end I was telling myself that on those last draws in their zone. Just didn’t get to the puck. Obviously it’s kind of tough to think of what you could’ve done differently in those situations to alter the result.”
3. Andrew Shaw, Blackhawks leading scorer. Didn’t think you’d see that through the first round, did you? But there it was nonetheless. Shaw’s power-play goal in the second period gave him a team-leading four goals in his six games of this series – he was suspended for Game 5. Shaw can commit the bad penalties. He can also supply those greasy goals, and he did that plenty in the first round.
4. Andrew Ladd’s quiet postseason. When the Blackhawks acquired Ladd from the Winnipeg Jets, they knew what they were getting. They knew what he did in 2010 and hoped he would bring firepower in the postseason. But Ladd had just one goal and one assist and both of those came in Game 6. The combination of he and Toews was supposed to bolster the Blackhawks’ scoring. It didn’t.
5. Playing with fire too often. For the second consecutive time the Blackhawks trailed by two goals at some point. This time it was early, as the Blues took a 2-0 lead in the first 14 minutes of the game. Yes, the Blackhawks tied it in the second period. But they knew the Blues were going to come out strong, knew the Blues were going to try to prove they could finally best the Cup champions. The Blackhawks couldn’t dig their way completely out of this hole.