For the first time since 2012, Chicago won’t be one of the final four teams challenging for the Stanley Cup, after going down 3-2 to St. Louis in Mondays game seven.
Goals from Jori Lehtera, Colton Parayko and Troy Brouwer, whose game winning goal was also his first of the playoffs, helped secure victory for the Blues, who advance to the Western Conference semifinals where they will face Dallas.
For St. Louis, elation. For Chicago, a heavy favourite to lift Lord Stanley’s Cup once again, disappointment.
Patrick Kane: "It just doesn’t really feel right." #Blackhawks
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) April 26, 2016
Kane was tied with Artemi Panarin for the Blackhawks scoring lead, with one goal and seven points through seven games, but was kept off the scoresheet during Mondays winner-takes-all encounter.
Captain Jonathan Toews registered one assist during the game, contributing towards Andrew Shaw’s second period marker, but was equally despondent following the game, per Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun Times
“Disappointment,” Toews said. “You get that feeling that it’s going to be one of those things again. We felt from the get-go this season that we [had] the team to do it again. … People were saying this series looked like it was probably going to come down to one goal at the end, and it did. Just wasn’t in our favor.”
The Blackhawks have played 366 games over the past four seasons, dating back to the truncated 2012/13 campaign, winning two Cups.
Some believe the early exit this year may help them moving forward, extending their summer significantly compared to previous years where runs to the Cup final and Conference finals have extended the teams season significantly, allowing a shorter window of recovery from the inevitable injuries, knocks and bruising sustained during an NHL season.