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updated: 3/14/2018 6:32 AM

Rozner: Should Chicago Blackhawks have seen this bad season coming?

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  • Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook, left, celebrates with center Jonathan Toews after scoring his goal against the Boston Bruins during the third period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, March 11, 2018, in Chicago. The Blackhawks won 3-1.

    Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook, left, celebrates with center Jonathan Toews after scoring his goal against the Boston Bruins during the third period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, March 11, 2018, in Chicago. The Blackhawks won 3-1.

 
 

Nick Lidstrom tried to explain it once, though he admitted it was difficult to properly quantify.

But the man who played more postseason games than anyone in NHL history except Chris Chelios -- 266 to 263 -- said the playoffs take a toll that no one could understand if they haven't been through it.

Lidstrom, in essence, said that the four rounds of playoffs necessary to make it through the Stanley Cup Final are roughly the equivalent of another full NHL season because of the pressure, intensity, speed and debilitating nature of playing that many games -- every other day -- for two months.

Which brings us to the current Blackhawks roster and the core of players that has led them to three Stanley Cups, five conference finals and 22 rounds of playoffs the last nine years.

If you believe one of the greatest players in history, that's the same as playing five-plus years of extra hockey.

It's no wonder so many of them suddenly look so advanced in age.

Rather than their current ages, think of Patrick Sharp as 41, Duncan Keith as 39, Brent Seabrook 37 and Jonathan Toews 34. Marian Hossa -- 18th all time in postseason games -- would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 years old.

It would explain a lot.

It doesn't, however, explain why Patrick Kane still appears to be 29 -- though he may not need to skate as hard as the others to be as good as he is -- and Brandon Saad at 25 wouldn't seem to have any excuse for his 2017-18 season, unless there's an undisclosed injury.

Still, the miles and minutes are substantial, the hits have added up, and the cost of World Championships, World Cups and Olympics have not even entered the equation.

Regardless, this group has had an extraordinary run, the Grant Park rallies and Michigan Avenues parades so easily forgotten when finally arrives a year without a postseason in Chicago.

Sooner than you think, Hawks Conventions will be built around anniversaries. Statues will be commissioned. Sweaters seen in the UC stands today will carry Hall of Fame patches tomorrow.

Everything ends faster than you hope. Nothing lasts as long as you wish.

Not to say anything is over, necessarily, as the Penguins have displayed the last two years.

With the right infusion of young players, as you've seen in Pittsburgh, the Hawks could turn it around, but nothing will matter more than the health of their goaltender.

Corey Crawford's disappearance is so quickly dismissed. Yet, the Hawks were right in the thick of it when he went down and have cratered since.

This is normal in the NHL, where few teams -- probably none -- could survive the loss of a top goaltender.

The temptation is instead to want to fire everyone and trade the rest, scream from the mountaintops and leave all perspective in a burning dumpster.

Of course, that's pretty much the answer to everything these days, especially if you make the mistake of drowning in the abyss that is social media.

Yes, mistakes have been made in the front office and on the bench, as every team can say, and perhaps someone will pay a price for that.

But the inconvenient truth is that there was no shame in losing to St. Louis two years ago, and none in losing to Nashville last season, though the fashion in which they went out -- as the top seed in the West -- was shocking.

It's as if they were supposed to win the big prize every year, a sure sign of how spoiled the Chicago hockey community has become over the last decade, a sure sign of great expectations that are welcome after so many horrible decades, but -- nevertheless -- unrealistic.

But no less stunning has been the drop this season and the sluggish play of so many players that not long ago were so very good.

It's still the best run any team has had in this town since Michael Jordan retired, and arguably the best in the NHL since Gary Bettman shut the league down for a year in 2004-05.

A market correction was inevitable, though timing it is as easy as finding a needle in a stack of needles.

Fortunately, hindsight is always perfect.

brozner@dailyherald.com

• Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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