NHL Playoffs: Story Book Slams Shut In Hawks Face As Title Defense Ends Suddenly

Sidney Brown provides dispatches from the front lines of Blackhawks fandom throughout the hockey season.

This week the St. Louis Blues finally exercised demons of recent playoff pasts and advanced to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs — a feel-good story right? Well, its not if you’re sympathetic to the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks, who fell 3-2 in Game 7 Monday night in order for the Blues to win a rare series 4-3 against its most bitter rival.

The stage was set for an epic finish between these division rivals after six wild games prior to Monday’s clash. The Hawks were looking to win a series for the second time in franchise history when trailing 3-1 in a series while the Blues were trying to save face blowing a 3-1 series lead with the final game in their backyard.

Jori Lehtera kicked off the scoring with his 1st goal of the playoffs to give the home team an early 1-0 lead just one minute into the first period. The Blues continued the onslaught as defenseman Colton Parayko netted home his second goal of the playoffs (13:43) increasing St. Louis’ lead 2-0. The Hawks caught fire near the end of the opening period with Marian Hossa scoring his 3rd goal of the playoffs (18:30) cutting the lead in half 2-1.

Chicago capitalized on the power play to open the second period courtesy of Andrew Shaw scoring his 4th goal of the playoffs (3:20), tying the game at 2-2.  The Blues came on and blasted a total of 12 shots on goal for the period but Hawks starting goalie Corey Crawford stopped all of them keeping his team within striking distance.

A tie game going into the 3rd period of a Game 7 is as dramatic as it gets. Ex-Hawk Troy Brouwer did his former team in scoring his 1st goal of the playoffs (8:31) off a rebound giving the Blues a 3-2 lead.  The defending champs put on a final push in the last few minutes of the game and when Brent Seabrook’s shot went off the post with four minutes remaining, it was the microcosm of the series and of the Hawks season.

If you were a hockey fan, this series was filled with great play from both teams which made for great theater. As far as net play went, Corey Crawford stopped 23 shots and posted a save percentage of .885.  Brian Elliot made his performance count for the Blues collecting 31 saves while posting a .939 save percentage.  The Blues will face the Dallas Stars in the 2nd round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs while the Hawks will be going fishing on an early vacation for the first time since 2012.

Giving Props

CHI – 1 for 1 on the power play
CHI – 33-30 faceoff wins advantage
CHI – 33-26 shots on goal advantage
CHI – Richard Panik with 5 hits

STL – 34-19 Hits edge
STL – Scotty Upshall with 7 hits

Mishaps

CHI – Teuvo Teravainen and Artemi Panarin combined for 0 points
CHI – Duncan Keith with two giveaways

STL – David Backes and Vladimir Tarasenko combined for 0 points

What We’ve Learned

The St. Louis Blues have a balanced roster that has a legitimate chance of wining a Stanley Cup. When push came to shove, the Blues answered the bell with timely goals and great defensive play unlike in recent years. The Chicago Blackhawks showed their true character when trailing 3-1 in the series, but failed when it mattered most.

What did the Hawks in for this series was bad turnovers — especially by their defensemen — as well as committing dumb penalties in key moments and their superstars Jonathan Toews and Patrick combining for just one goal in the entire series.

The lack of depth on the defense was exposed and lack of scoring goals at even strength (5 on 5) have been problems all season long and it reeked its ugly head at the wrong time of year. Just like last year when the Hawks used the 2014 loss to the LA kings as motivation to win the Stanley Cup, expect this team to do the same for next year but this roster may and will look a different for next year.

Series Leaders (Final)

Goals: Vladimir Tarasenko (STL) – 4
Assists: Patrick Kane (CHI) – 6
Points: Artemi Panarin (CHI) – 7
Goals Against Average: Brian Elliot (STL) – 2.46

Hawks Leaders (Final)

Goals: Andrew Shaw (4)
Assists: Patrick Kane (6)
Points: Artemi Panarin (7)
Penalty Minutes: Andrew Shaw (18)
Goals Against Average: Corey Crawford (2.46)

Follow Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and on Facebook under Regal Radio; Follow Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and Sidney Brown @sidkid80

 

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