And then there were 11: Another first-round exit for Blackhawks

The Phoenix Coyotes finally beat the Chicago Blackhawks in regulation – and ended their playoff run, in the process. The final score was misleadingly lopsided (4-0), but the bottom line is that the Coyotes took the series 4-2.

The Blackhawks face a slew of haunting “What if?” questions and make no mistake about it: Mike Smith will haunt their dreams. (Raffi Torres might as well.)

To the autopsy…

What happened?

Smith stood on his head just about all series long. If you want a stat that summarizes Chicago’s frustration, just check Game 6: through two periods, the Blackhawks held a 28-8 shot advantage. The Coyotes had a 1-0 lead that eventually morphed into a 4-0 win. Yup, that must be frustrating.

Who takes the blame?

Smith’s brilliance only made Corey Crawford’s inadequacies seem more stark. Tonight’s clincher is really the only game in which his numbers are awful (16 out of 20 saves), but the highlights of some of his softies will live on in the disappointed memories of many Blackhawks fans.

What will they do about it?

The overall core is what it is, really. Even Crawford and backup Ray Emery are under contract next season, although the Blackhawks haven’t been shy about scuttling out an ineffective netminder if necessary (see: Huet, Cristobal).

Beyond the big goalie question, the Blackhawks will likely do the same thing this summer that they did last year: stock up on cheap veterans to build around their still great-core. Hawks fans just have to hope that those veterans end up more effective than the last batch.

Having a healthy Marian Hossa wouldn’t hurt, either.


And then there were 15: Is Detroit’s dynasty on its last legs?

And then there were 14: Sharks come out flat in playoffs

And then there were 13: Powerhouse Pens fall flat

And then there were 12: Presidents’ Trophy-winning Canucks bounced in Round 1

Welcome back, Babs: Red Wings chase Bernier

Mike Babcock
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Mike Babcock admitted that there might be a painful transformation as he tries to fix the Toronto Maple Leafs.

His old friends made that abundantly, painfully clear on Friday.

As of this writing, the Detroit Red Wings are up 4-0 on the Buds. Justin Abdelkader just completed a hat trick with James Reimer in net, so the subplot isn’t just about Jonathan Bernier having another tough start.

The big story might just be Detroit’s varied new line of Abdelkader, Dylan Larkin (who scored his first career goal) and Henrik Zetterberg. At the moment, they’ve combined for seven points.

This post will be updated if Detroit’s tribute video to Babcock surfaces.

Really, though, this beating has been about as ugly as this blanket so far.

Blue Jackets’ Wennberg done for night with upper-body injury

Alexander Wennberg, Jay Bouwmeester
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It wouldn’t be a regular season game without a Columbus Blue Jackets injury, right?

OK, the Blue Jackets hope that 2015-16 looks different from the medically challenged mess of last season, but at least one player is banged up tonight.

Alexander Wennberg suffered an upper-body injury and won’t return on Friday, as the team noted.

There’s no word yet regarding how serious the issue might be. It looks like he might have suffered an injury thanks to a Chris Kreider check:

Naturally, the Blue Jackets must hope that this doesn’t begin another trend.