How The Predators Swept The Blackhawks And What’s Next For Chicago?

By Randy Holndoner (@bhawkschatter)

 The Chicago Blackhawks found themselves packing their bags for the summer as the Nashville Predators swept the Blackhawks with a 4-1 victory.

For the Predators, the fourth time is a charm.  After being eliminated by the Blackhawks in 2010, 2013, and 2015, they had something to prove.  Boy did they show it.  They outplayed the Blackhawks in almost every aspect.  

To win the Cup, you need bounces and breaks to go your way.  The Blackhawks found themselves on the wrong side of almost every bounce.  That is not taking anything away from a Predators team that dominated this entire series.  Pekka Rinne was solid in net, although was not tested often in the series.  Amazingly, Rinne, in the series, had as many points as any of the Blackhawks (2 assists in Game 2).

Board battles, faceoffs, net presence, all were dictated by the Predators in this series.  Another glaring problem was the slowness of the Blackhawks in the series, particularly their defense.  The Predators outscored the Blackhawks in the series, 13-3.

Big questions now arise for the Blackhawks.  Two first-round exits in the last two seasons now for this franchise.  More disturbing, in the last two post seasons, Jonathan Toews has scored 1 goal (11 games).  Patrick Kane, two goals.

What does this mean for this team that will have to deal with yet another season of salary cap questions.  Do players become expendable now to be traded for younger talent?  Brent Seabrook, who did not have a good year, has a $6.8mil cap hit for the next seven years.  Marcus Kruger, who has a $3mil cap hit for the next two seasons would be a reasonable choice to leave.

Stan Bowman would have rather thought about these problems two months from now, but instead, he’ll have a couple of months to think of a way to turn this franchise around.

 

Photos provided by newsday.com

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