Blackhawks Come Up Short In Regular Season Finale

Corey Crawford returned but had a limited roster in front of him. But even with a number of the Blackhawks stars watching from home or the press box, it took a power play goal in overtime for the Blue Jackets to knock off the defending champs.

Marian Hossa, Artem Anisimov and Andrew Shaw didn’t travel with the team to Columbus. Duncan Keith is still suspended. And Jonathan Toews and Niklas Hjalmarsson received a well-earned night off. That’s an all-star team out of uniform.

The Blackhawks did dress their two most dynamic offensive weapons, however. And they had a huge night in the loss.

Patrick Kane scored his 45th of the season and Artemi Panarin his 29th and 30th in the first period as the Hawks sprinted to a 3-0 lead. And yet Columbus out-shot the Hawks 10-8 in the opening 20 minutes, even with Chicago having two power plays (Panarin scored his first goal with the advantage).

The Jackets flipped the script on the Hawks in the second, matching the Hawks’ three goals to send the game to the second intermission tied. Scott Hartnell, Matt Calvert and Brandon Saad took care of the scoring for Columbus. The goal was Saad’s 31st on the campaign.

Alexander Wennberg gave Columbus a lead 3:09 into the third, but Kane answered less than seven minutes later. The goal closed Kane’s historic 2015-16 season with 46 goals and 106 points, finishing 17 points ahead of Jamie Benn to win the Art Ross Trophy.

Hartnell finished a four-point night with a power play goal in overtime, finishing the season on a high note for the Blue Jackets.

Crawford made 20 stops against 25 shots in the loss, his first action since March 14.

Eric Gustafsson and Christian Ehrhoff, two regular scratches over the last month, both skated more than 22 minutes in the game. Ehrhoff’s 22:56 led all Chicago skaters on the night. Brent Seabrook picked up two assists in the game.

Tomas Fleischmann had a brutal minus-four night but finished tied with Kane for second on the team with five shots on net. Panarin led the Hawks with six shots on net.

The Blackhawks will move on to face the St. Louis Blues in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, hopefully with a full roster.

26 thoughts on “Blackhawks Come Up Short In Regular Season Finale

  1. Remember when people were blasting Kaner last summer? I thought that was really unfair, as was much of the speculation that took place.

    That’s the extent of any input I have offered on the matter.

    He’s really had a terrific season. I’m glad he plays for Chicago.

    See you all for the Playoffs!! ~ LGH

  2. …..good for Kane…but rest of team is not on the same page….unless there is a drastic change in the playoffs , this season will only be remembered for great individual efforts….a bit like Washington Capitals up until recently with Ovechkin overachieving but team not winning when it counts….

  3. There are lots of moving parts to be determined-but if the Hawks are reasonably healthy, and 50 is especially, they are one of about 6 legitimate teams to go all the way-
    their path is cruel-could this team beat–St. Louis, Dallas, let’s say L.A. and Washington? Probably not, but it takes a rare combination of skill, good fortune, stamina and will that we don’t know if some of the other teams have.
    Let the toughest two months of sport begin.

  4. Wouldnt be surprised to see Minny knockoff Dallas in round 1. Also curious to see how many rounds the Caps win? Im guessing less then 2.

  5. While Game #82 was meaningless for playoff positioning, I was disappointed the team essentially checked out after the 1st period and left Crawford out to dry. It doesn’t matter that a couple goals were of the fluky variety or that he’s been around the block enough to not let a game where he gives up 5 goals “wreck him” mentally going into the playoffs. He’ll probably be fine or not based on his physical health, not his mental health. But, the boys in front of him knew he wanted to get a good game under his belt before the playoffs started but apparently that didn’t matter enough to them to play hard all 60 minutes.

    Yes, that’s disappointing, and it’s a trend we’ve seen too often this season where the Hawks get up by 2 or 3 goals and then put it in momentum losing cruise control. This version of the Toews/Kane/Keith Hawks don’t have the same wide margin of error that past versions have had. They also don’t have the same killer instinct as we’ve seen in the past, at least not in this regular season. They used to be an assassin, collectively, now not so much. They still have enough skill, but apparently not the same will.

    While I believe there is some validity to a veteran champion team being able to turn it up in the playoffs, I don’t believe it’s as simple as “flipping the switch” makes it sound. Is the single-minded purposeful will to win at all costs still there? The tell will be consistent commitment to team defense.

  6. This is the Capitals Cup for the taking. I think this is the year that Trotz and Oveckin finally win. I think they get to the Finals rather easily. And I think they beat the Kings in 6.

    I think the Hawks don’t survive round 2. Then salary cap hell ensues all over again.

  7. At least the one point ensures home ice advantage over LA and the Quacks if we get that far. Panik needs to play in the post season. The guy is one of the fastest skaters on the team, actually hits people and has some slick moves. 11 & 25 should alternate to make room for 14. Bring on the playoffs. Now we will get to see if the mediocre play the last two months is who the Hawks are or are they “the lion in the Savannah” as Morrison likes to say.

  8. ER, I too wanted us ‘to play’ (even with 6 guys not in) to clinch the higher seed (which we already deserved with that 1-0 win) and for Crow to get his bearings. That was a fast speed scrimmage. The good thing is Crow told them he was ready to go when asked.

    Our guys know what it takes to win but we learned what to do to better prepare during the 82 games in that is why I think we had more then usual lopsided scores where we were not going to waste any/extra energy because we know we need to win a certain amount of the 82 games and not as many a we could. The only diff is we didn’t have as many 1 goal games, which makes the one goal game record not as good but also not as much grind/unnecessary wear and tear.

    That we would get what we needed along the way and prepare better/not having to play that kind of way in the 2nd 40 games/last 10 of 82 to get in. I do not think its random that we always tear it up in NOV and DEC then slump in JAN and FEB (this was DEC and JAN, then FEB and MAR) then we can play at full speed again.

  9. Once again, didn’t finish them, Regardless of who is hurt/healthy, this team lacks that killer instinct right now.

  10. You’re right, Mox. The B Team lacks a killer instinct.

    Thankfully, the guys who weren’t dressed have a really good history have having one.

    If you’re going to place your postseason bets based on Saturday’s roster that included Ehrhoff, Mashinter, Bickell, Svedberg and Rasmussen, I would be thrilled to take your money.

  11. Hey Tab,
    Come up for air man. This hasn’t been going on just the last couple of games since the injuries and Duncs suspension. It’s been going on since early February. Has it been the B squad since then? I’ll wait for your witty response. Not sure why you feel the need to attack my point of view when I’ve been a pretty loyal reader to your blog, and I’ve sent numerous readers your way. But really, if I’m wrong, explain to me why this team has been awful since the start of February.

  12. Further, I sure hope the Hawks are taking a different approach than yours Tab. Resting on your past achievements doesn’t win hockey games. And hoping you get healthy and out of a slump isn’t much of a strategy.

  13. Lol. The comments are very similar to last year, namely, a bunch of crap. Last year it was we can’t win since we lost our last 4 gmaes, Vermette stinks, Coach Q changes lines too much and doesn’t play stars like Morin, we can’t win with 4 dmen, Kane won’t return in time, etc. The Hawks looked worse than they do this year and still won. 6 cups soon to be 7 cups!

  14. Unfortunately, this Blackhawks organization has come to be known for resting on their past achievements. They clearly aren’t driven to win any longer. We shouldn’t worry about buying playoff tickets.

    /sarcasm

    I get it, Mox. You love the half-empty glass that has been the last 3 months for the Hawks. And, based on your comments, I’m not going to try to talk about out of it. But there are a lot of underlying trends that are pointing a better direction (see penalty kill) that are reasons for confidence.

  15. Still didn’t answer the question. Has it been the B squad since Feb? This team has gone through slumps in the past, but this is different. The lack of a W against a playoff opponent in over two months is alarming. Their production during 5 on 5 is alarming. Their lack of production from the Toews line is alarming. Their defense is alarming. It has nothing to do with glass half full/empty.

  16. There are some positives – actually more of them than negatives by my count.

    A team doesn’t get 103 points playing in the rugged Central Division by accident or luck. That’s tied for the 4th best points total in the league. They would have finished first in the Atlantic and Pacific Divisions.

    Their goal differential (+26), as good a stat as there is to assess how good the team is, is tied for 6th in the league.

    Their Power Play is one of the best in the league and although their Penalty Kill is statistically bad, we all know it has improved greatly since Kruger came back. To have both the PP and PK playing well going into the playoffs is huge and not something they’ve had in the past Cup wins when it was usually one or the other but not both playing well.

    A well rested Keith. (he’ll need to be)

    Darling getting lots of games down the stretch should bode well if he’s needed.

    Kane and Panarin hitting on all cylinders after going through a slow period a few weeks back.

    Just to highlight some of the biggies.

  17. Some interesting points about the last three months and the team’s recent history (- the last six years). I really don’t know how much the facts — lack of a W against a playoff opponent in over two months, production 5 on 5, lack of production from the Toews line, and consistent team defense hasn’t been there too often — will impact their play in the post season. I choose to give them the benefit of the doubt (based on recent history) until an opponent wins a series.

    If one were to lean “half-full”, as ebonyraptor pointed-out, 103 points in the Central Division wasn’t an accident or luck (- tied for 4th best points total in the league = first in the Atlantic and Pacific Divisions), goal differential (+26), PP is good and PK has been good since Kruger returned.

    We’ll see… GO HAWKS!!

  18. I really like to read all the opinions on this blog, especially as the season winds down. Everyone has such varied opinions and open minds that, as I read, I go from the Hawks winning 16 in a row to the Hawks being out in the first round. It’s really great how everyone actually sees different outcomes with this team.

    I think when it really comes down to it, the Hawks have a couple of things that many teams fear. #1. They have the 2 best PURE scorers in hockey on the same line in Kaner and Panny. They can be separated and still be productive at any time, which means that other teams have to defend against 2 top scorers with speed and agility. #2. Their PP is a lot batter of late. #3. Their PK is a lot better with #22(formerly #16) on the PK. #4. Q is not afraid to mix things up, move players in and out of the line up and make adjustments, not from game to game, but from shift to shift. Most coaches stay “status quo”, not Q. #5. Experience does make a difference. Not only coaching and playing experience, but having players who can keep their emotions in check when things are not going well and be able to recover from a bad shift or a bad game.

    Ken Hitchcock knows that the playoffs are a different animal. The Blues and Stars and Wild can put their thumbs in their suspenders all they want during the regular season, but in the playoffs, the ice shrinks and speed, skill and defense take over. Oh…..and goaltending is a top priority. The last time I looked at playoff stats, all the goalies from the above teams didn’t do well when the pressure was on in the playoffs (exception: Niemi with Hawks). Niemi hasn’t had a sniff of a deep playoff run in 6 years and the Stars may not even start him.

    I like our chances. I like this team and I like the leadership that we have, right now. I will hold my Hawk flag high when we win. If we lose, I will still salute the team that took us down and thank the Hawks for a great season and still have fun in my men’s league games. It’s ONLY hockey, boys!! Go HAWKS!!!

  19. The Blackhawks have been playing with lots on ‘B’ team lineups since February. The only stable line has been the second line. The defensive parings have also be a constant experiment.

    For the post season run, if lines 1-4 are set with a healthy Hossa, Anisimov & Shaw, and the D locks in with a rested Keith, and goal keeping is solid with a rested & healthy Crawford, a Stanley Cup is realistic.

    I am calling 16 wins If Hawks stay healthy during the playoffs. 16 wins!

  20. When the Blackhawks needed to win this regular season they won. They put themselves up high enough with that 12 game win streak in January to put themselves in a position to coast a bit before the playoffs. They won the games they needed when they were in danger of Nashville catching them.
    It depends on how much they want to win the Cup this year. They have a chance to do it back to back and when just about everyone is writing them off to pick the Pens or Caps or Stars to win it. We’ll see how they do but I can’t count them out! Go Hawks!!!

  21. The Caps are the only team since the 1976 Canadiens to not lose back to back games in an entire season. They are in the top 5 in all the important categories. And you know what, none of that means shit come playoff time. Our boys have as much of a chance as anybody to win the cup. And we have the most important intangible in our favor: We know how! First step, make the Blues sing their namesake.

  22. I feel if Shaw is back in the lineup for the playoffs the Hawks will be okay. He has been the glue that kept this team together and has done well wherever Q has played him. Obviously Shaw brings a ton of energy and does all the little things right. He is not a star but the value of role players like him on the team can not be overstated and that is why the Hawks have done well this season.

  23. Tab how about setting up a league in the bracket challenge so all the experts can see how they do against one another? If you can announce the name of the league I will put a bracket in. This way someone will have bragging rights for a year.

  24. Although I will not dismiss the concerns and weak spots through out this year’s team that many of us point to as cause for worry, and understand why these imperfections would raise doubt, I still believe that this squad is capable of going the distance once more. I think their chances are realistic. A big portion these guys have played ALOT OF HOCKEY over the last few years, and they are starting to really feel what comes with it. I think, especially with our older skaters, that some of them are starting to realize that they cannot do the things that made them special in every game they play in. And that is why there have been ups and downs this season. But this group knows how to win, and what it takes to get there. And I would not be surprised what so ever if certain players weren’t bringing their all in every game this year because they were doing what was needed so they could be ready to go when it really mattered. They were saving it so that they could do the special things that has set them apart from the rest in order to win again. We all know these guys know what it takes to win, and they are making sure they have the best chance to win again, because they want it now more than ever.

  25. These teams are evenly matched now, and the Blues are getting all the breaks, i.e. the bounce of the puck and fluke goals.
    I think the karma has switched: the Blues can beat the Hawks now just as the Cubs can beat the Cards.

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