The Chicago Blackhawks playoff hopes are all but over after being blanked by Darcy Kuemper and the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday night. The offense struggled once again to create quality scoring chances, and for the sixth straight game, they scored two goals or fewer. The Blackhawks had an opportunity to pick up a crucial two points in the desert, but they managed to come up short with the season on the line.

The Blackhawks’ offense has been the strength of the team all season, but they appear to be worn out from doing the heavy lifting for so long. The DeBrincat-Strome-Perlini line has failed to score in the last five games after being dominant their first couple of outings together. Even Patrick Kane has been held off the scoresheet seven times in his past 14 games after picking up a point in 20 straight. The Blackhawks’ superstars could only carry this team so far. Eventually, the lack of depth scoring was going to catch up to this team.

Even the Blackhawks’ powerplay has cooled off after being the league’s best for a couple of months. They are just 2/27 in the last 12 games, which is an abysmal 7% conversion rate. Every time the Blackhawks needed their powerplay to come up huge down the stretch, it seemed like they would come up empty. To go along with the recent powerplay struggles, the ‘Hawks have had the NHL’s worst penalty kill for over four months now. The penalty kill percentage is currently at 73.1%, which would be the worst percentage since the 1988-1989 season. The Blackhawks gave up another power-play goal Tuesday night vs. the Coyotes, which wound up being the game-winner. It’s hard to be a playoff team with the worst penalty kill in 30 years.

A Season That Few Saw Coming

While the Blackhawks’ playoff run is likely over, it has certainly been an entertaining last couple of months. Looking back to December 12th, the Blackhawks had a 9-18-5 record through 32 games. Since then, they’ve gone 24-15-5, and have made significant upgrades up and down the roster. They have come a long way since being the worst team in the league. If the ‘Hawks weren’t horrendous in the first half of the season, there is a good chance they would currently be in a playoff position.

Even though the season is coming to a disappointing end, there is a lot to build on from this wild and wacky ride. The Blackhawks have established strong pieces to their top-six forwards, and they also have a plethora of defensive prospects. Corey Crawford has been fantastic since returning from another concussion, and Collin Delia appears to be his prodigy. The fact that the ‘Hawks were able to compete with this current roster is a feat of its own. Their defense was nowhere near good enough to be a playoff team, yet with less than two weeks left in the regular season, they were still right in the middle of the race.

The Blackhawks will also have a significant amount of cap space coming up this offseason. It is crucial that they use this money efficiently because with a couple of significant improvements, this could be a playoff team next season. It will be interesting to see how the Chicago Blackhawks use this cap space to build up their roster.