Chicago Blackhawks: Season finale was a fitting end

(Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images) /

The game was a microcosm of the Chicago Blackhawks’ season, complete with blown leads, missed defensive assignments, and the Hawks being outshot by a significant margin. Oh, and the team was just about half a minute away from forcing a shootout.

The Chicago Blackhawks had a fitting ending to the 2020-21 season.

Chicago had a chance to send off the season in style with fans back in the building. And the offense was a bright spot at times. Yet the Hawks also failed to convert a four-minute power play that covered a good chunk of the overtime.

It was a meaningless game involving two teams that were in the playoff hunt and fell short, yet it was also the kind of tilt that makes Hawks fans want to tear their hair out.

Alex DeBrincat was brilliant and Collin Delia did his best in net to keep the Hawks hanging around as they were outshot 50-23. However, Pius Suter epitomized the up-and-down nature of this team.

Suter had the Hawks’ second goal when he took a pass from DeBrincat (he also set up DeBrincat on the first score) and buried it early in the first period. He also later took an inexplicable route on defense off of a defensive-zone faceoff when the Hawks were killing a penalty, allowing Miro Heiskanen to score with just two seconds remaining in the second. The goal was just three seconds into the penalty kill.

This isn’t to pick on Suter but rather to show how this team, which consists mostly of young and developing players, can look good one second and then clueless the next. That may be par for the course with young teams, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.

The Hawks should’ve sent their fans home happy but didn’t because they weren’t able to defend a 4-2 lead in the third. Dallas just kept shooting and when that happens, eventually pucks find their way into the net. Still, the four-minute man advantage that covered the end of regulation and most of OT gave the Hawks a chance to write the happy ending.

They didn’t do it, in part because of fumbled passes on the power play and in part because Dallas goalie Jake Oettinger did his part to keep the puck out of the net.

Chicago knew entering the game that win or lose, they’d be making tee times later this week. Normally, losing a meaningless season finale, even at home, wouldn’t leave a bad taste in the fans’ mouths but this one stung.

It stung because the Hawks showed flashes of potential and because a two-goal lead in the third often gives confidence. Watching it on TV, it really felt like the Hawks would hold and end the season on a high note, despite Dallas’ onslaught of pucks on the net. Delia looked capable and the clock was the Hawks’ friend.

Until it wasn’t. Still, with a tie game and a four-minute power play and an offense that has the capability to strike and still has Patrick Kane, the odds seemed in the Hawks’ favor. Then it all ended with a flop.

It was fitting for a team that teased playoff hopes before having them dashed, in part because of an inability to beat Nashville. The Predators were also playing for that same spot. The Hawks also struggled with the elite teams in the division, making clear how big the gap is between Chicago and the contenders and how far a rebuilding Hawks team needs to go to get back in the Cup conversation.

Next. Chicago Blackhawks: Elimination should embarrass the organization. dark

There will be post-mortems plenty and plenty of features on what this team needs to do to continue the rebuild successfully. For now, though, if you want a single-game snapshot that sums up this season, just re-watch this game over and over. It tells the story.