How Bad Was The Chicago Blackhawks Playoff Collapse?
The 2016-17 Hawks enter rare air as one of the few NHL 1-seeds swept in the first round.
What the Chicago Blackhawks did in the NHL postseason this past week shows the pain and the beauty of playoff hockey.
Here you have a team that was amongst the Stanley Cup contenders. After all, the Blackhawks were the top seed in the Western Conference and winners of three Cups since 2010. Only the Nashville Predators had the belief that Chicago were not a foregone conclusion to advance.
Just how big of an upset was Nashville’s four-game sweep of the Blackhawks?
Chicago Blackhawks Assume Dubious History
The National Hockey League changed its playoff format several years ago. Thus, there are no 1-vs-8 bracket matchups as such. If there were, however, Blackhawks vs. Predators would have been it in the West.
The last time the eighth seed in a conference upset the top seed was in 2012. Los Angeles, streaking towards a Stanley Cup, blew past the Vancouver Canucks at warp speed. Yet, this was the first time since 1993, and only the second time ever, that a conference’s top seed got swept in the first round by the eight. The team that got swept both times, you guessed it, was Chicago.
This is a road they’ve been down before, but it doesn’t get any less embarrassing. Such upsets are rare in the NHL, though not unheard of completely. Nevertheless, you don’t want to be “that team” and the Blackhawks got outclassed in their abortive run to the Cup.
Impact of the Blackhawks Exit
The Western Conference is now wide open; there is no clear favorite left standing. A young, exciting team like Edmonton could streak to the Stanley Cup finals if they eliminate San Jose. Anaheim, who just swept their first-round series, are also a strong candidate. St. Louis is playing better with better goaltending than earlier in the year.
Oh yeah, and Nashville is in the conversation, too. Why not? To be the best, you have to beat the best, and the Preds just knocked the stuffing out of them.