Despite losing to the St. Louis Blues in the first round of the playoffs, the Blackhawks gave their fans everything they could hope for, a chance at advancing to the next round of the playoffs after trailing 3-1 in the series.
The Blackhawks gave everything they had. They never gave up on the series after trailing 3-1 and forced the Blues to a Game 7, they fought through adversity without defenseman Duncan Keith in Game 1 and right wing Andrew Shaw in Game 5, and they played good hockey away from home.
But in the end, St. Louis was the better team.
After years of disappointments in the playoffs of not being able to get past the Western Conference Semifinals in the last four seasons, St. Louis has a legitimate team to advance past the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference Semifinals, and even advancing to the Stanley Cup Championship.
With that being said, the Blackhawks should hang their heads high for clawing their way back against the Blues. After trailing 3-1 in the series, everyone knew it was going to be a difficult task to win three games in a row, but being in that position three years ago when they trailed the Detroit Red Wings 3-1 in the Western Conference Semifinals, the Blackhawks had confidence in themselves that they could get it done again.
Unfortunately, it just didn’t happen, and now the Blackhawks have the opportunity to spend the rest of the playoffs resting for next season, something they have not done in the last three years.
Speaking about rest, last year in their Stanley Cup run the Blackhawks played 23 playoff games, in 2013-14 they played 19 playoff games after losing to the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Finals, and in 2012-13 they played 23 playoff games when they won the Stanley Cup, according to NHL.com.
So after three consecutive years of making it far into the playoffs, this team could use some rest. Their top defensemen, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, are both at the end of their prime years, with Keith being 32-years-old and Seabrook being 31-years-old.
Marian Hossa had an up and down season dealing with injuries and could use some rest, along with Corey Crawford who dealt with a concussion at the end of the season.
With that rest, the Blackhawks should be ready and refreshed by training camp to make another Stanley Cup run.
But one key player who might not be back next season to make another Stanley Cup run is Andrew Shaw.
Going into next season, Shaw could be wearing a different team’s sweater with the chance to sign with another team if they offer him a better deal than Chicago. And even though Shaw does not bring a lot of offense to the table, he brings a lot of toughness to the team. He is always in front of the net trying to screen the goalie and is always willing to get into a fight to stand up for his teammates.
Shaw is one of those players who you hate if he is not on your team and a player who you love if he is on your team, and losing Shaw to another team could be a huge blow to this team, considering his veteran leadership.
It’s disappointing that the Blackhawks got knocked out of the first round this season, but they will be back and fully rested next season as they look to add another Stanley Cup.
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