And with that you can close the curtain on another disappointing finish. It was only two short years ago that we had a thrilling run to the Finals, with much the same core, and yet one wonders if the physical toll of that run has healed, or frankly whether it ever will.
Last season’s team went out too soon, but gave us a glimmer of hope before ultimately succumbing in the first round. However, this year’s first round exit had a more final feel to it. Losing to a hungrier, tougher and more disciplined team not widely thought to be better than you will do that. Certainly, some officiating could come into question, but there was no question as to who was the better team here.
One now has to look inward, and reflect about the veteran winger who can’t seem to catch a break from the injury bug. About the center with Selke candidacies past but perhaps not future, and with injury woes to boot.
About a collection of forwards one year older and further into their primes, with few high draft picks coming up through the pipeline due to an extended run of success and trades designed to extend the life of the present group.
About players who had overachieved and outplayed their contracts but are now being paid to their value at the expense of cap flexibility. About battleworn defencemen contractually attached to the team by long term deals.
About goaltending which seemed more than adequate but in which an underwhelming playoffs may have called into question. About a coach whose Jack Adams credibility might be just about used up on the dressing room.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this isn’t just the end of a season, but perhaps also of an era. It’s going to be a long off-season for your 2011-12 Chicago Blackhawks.
Chris the Curmudgeon’s comment on PITB
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