The Black Hawks had a very quiet off-season, however, Chicago did acquire goaltender 21-year-old goaltender Murray Bannerman from the Vancouver Canucks to complete an earlier trade that sent Pit Martin to the Canucks. Bannerman spent the previous season with the Fort Wayne Komets of the IHL, and did appear in a game with Vancouver, allowing no goals in a period of action.
Chicago opened the season with a six-game unbeaten streak, going 3-0-3, before suffering their first loss. The Hawks would struggle after their hot start, as Chicago saw their record fall to 17-24-9 at the start of February, however, despite their poor record, the Black Hawks were in first place in the Smythe Division. The Black Hawks turned their fortunes around in their next 14 games, going 8-3-3, putting their record at 25-27-12, with 62 points, 14 ahead of the second place Vancouver Canucks. Chicago then fell into an eight-game winless streak (0-7-1), but still held a 10-point lead. Chicago then finished the season with a 29-36-15 record, earning 73 points, and winning the Smythe Division for the second season in a row, and seventh division title in the past ten seasons.
Offensively, the Black Hawks were led by Ivan Boldirev, who led the club with 29 goals and 64 points in 66 games. Stan Mikita had 19 goals and a team high 36 assists for 55 points to finish second in team scoring. Defenceman Bob Murray scored 19 goals and 51 points to lead the Black Hawks blueline. Defenceman Dave Logan had a team high 175 penalty minutes, while winger Ted Bulley led Chicago with a +18 rating.
In goal, Tony Esposito saw the majority of playing time, going 24-28-11 with a 3.27 GAA, while earning four shutouts.
Since the Hawks won their division, they were given a bye in the NHL Preliminary Round, and advanced straight to the NHL quarter-finals. Their first round opponent was the New York Islanders, who finished with the best record in the NHL, going 51-15-14, earning 116 points and winning the Patrick Division. The series opened with two games at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island, New York, with the Islanders, led by a Mike Bossy hat trick, easily defeated Chicago 6-2. The second game was decided in overtime, after the two teams played through three scoreless periods. The Islanders Mike Bossy scored his fourth goal of the series in overtime to give New York the 1-0 victory, and a 2-0 series lead. Black Hawks goaltender Tony Esposito made 39 saves in the loss, while Islanders goaltender Billy Smith stopped all 22 shots he faced. The series moved to Chicago Stadium for the next two games. In the third game, the Islanders once again shutout the Black Hawks, this time with goaltender Chico Resch making 21 saves for the shutout, as New York defeated the Hawks 4-0 to take a 3-0 series lead. The Islanders would complete the sweep in the fourth game, winning 3-1, and sending the Blackhawks to their sixteenth consecutive playoff loss.
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