The Chicago Blackhawks were shut out in Game 6 of the 2012 NHL postseason, and as a result, have been knocked out of the playoffs. Phoenix's advancement shocked many since the Hawks went into the series with the better record and a Championship title under their belts.
So, you might ask, where did all that battle and brawl go once the playoffs started?
There will be a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking for the Blackhawks in the months ahead, so I figured I'd throw in my two cents worth.
There are two great equalizers in hockey: goaltending and talented size. On Monday night, Mike Smith was the Phillip Humber of hockey by going out there and doing what not many professionals have done in their careers--pitch a perfect game.
It was not only the quantity but also the quality of saves Smith made that created a perfect outing in a lot of respects.
Corey Crawford made all the saves he should have and was still staring at a one goal deficit after 40 minutes of play. By that point, the Blackhawks had peppered Smith with 28 shots and 14 scoring opportunities.
After Phoenix scored their second goal, it appeared clear that Smith would come out the winning goalie in the matchup.
Chicago got neutralized by the size of the Coyotes. Their team is big where it matters--down the middle and on the back end.
Referees are reluctant to call interference penalties (hooking, holding), especially in the playoffs, and there wasn't a lot of room for the Blackhawk forwards to create. When they did break free for a scoring chance, there were big bodies blocking shots, including a 6'4' world class netminder.
So what does all this mean? That the Blackhawks will have to live with this one for a while, make some tweaks where tweaking is needed, and come back next fall ready to get back to the top of that mountain--a place they found themselves just two years ago.
That place, right now, seems pretty far away.