Rapid Reaction: Coyotes 4, Hawks 0

April, 23, 2012
4/23/12
10:53
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for the second time since winning the Stanley Cup as the Phoenix Coyotes earned a 4-0 shutout and 4-2 series win.

How it happened: The Hawks dominated most of the game, but when Phoenix scored first the air in the United Center left the building. The Coyotes broke a scoreless tie with a second-period power play goal by Oliver Ekkman-Larsson after an interference call on Jonathan Toews. Larsson found a lane to shoot with a screen in front of Corey Crawford. Phoenix added three third-period tallies as Gilbert Brule scored a goal from in front of Crawford after the Hawks lost some puck battles in their own zone. Then came a vicious check by Jimmy Hayes to the back of Michal Rozsvial, drawing a five-minute major boarding infraction as well as a game misconduct. Phoenix scored a second power-play goal and then added another one. The Hawks pressured Mike Smith early in the contest, outshooting the Coyotes 39-20 on the night and 28-8 after two periods. That differential was indicative of the scoring chances, at least early on. The Hawks had the majority of them but could not figure out Smith. That is one of the main storylines of the series.

What it means: It means the Hawks wasted a good chance to move on to the second round. The Hawks have more talent on the roster -- except in goal. Yes, Smith helped steal this game, but if the Hawks had inundated him this way for the previous five they may not have been facing elimination. Joel Quenneville did a good job balancing out the lines to provide pressure from the start, but once again the Hawks' special teams let them down. It was a season-long issue and nothing changed in this series. The power-play goal from Larsson came with a screen in front and a missed chance at a shot block near the point. Again, both issues on the penalty kill have been season-long problems. Their power play chances were just as ineffective, going 1-for-19 in the series.

What's next: An offseason of change is likely and one question will certainly surround the core players. Could one be moved? Should one be moved? And who will take the fall among the coaches for a second consecutive first-round flameout? Both special teams units and the Hawks' goaltending were below par. That stuff usually falls on the assistants. And general manager Stan Bowman will be under the microscope as well.

Jesse Rogers | email

Chicago Cubs beat reporter
Jesse joined ESPN Chicago in September 2009 and covers the Chicago Cubs for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN Radio 1000.

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