We Got The Cup!
Blackhawks defeat Lightning, capture third title in six years.
Patrick Kane’s goal in Game 6 all but sealed the Tampa Bay Lightning’s fate. Five minutes later the horn sounded, and the Blackhawks were, once again, champions. Coming from behind in each of the last two series, heart and determination are just a few words that accurately describe this Hawks team. It is rare in sport to find a team that seemingly plays their best when their backs are against the wall, but that has been the case for this team over the last six seasons.
Jumping back to the first period of this year’s playoffs, it is hard to imagine the ‘second season’ starting any worse. Down 3-0 to a tough Nashville team, the Hawks would rally to win the game 4-3 in three overtimes. That type of effort would be a sign of things to come. A sweep of the Minnesota Wild saw the Hawks take on a Ducks team that many thought would be too physical for them. Seven games later, they were headed to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Steven Stamkos and a young Lightning team would prove to give the Hawks all they could handle. Up until Game 6, every game was decided by exactly one goal. In the end, it was the Blackhawks defense that made the difference. The Lightning managed just two goals over the last nine periods of the series. After taking heat throughout the season and even during the playoffs, Corey Crawford was simply outstanding in the finals. The two-time Stanley Cup champion looked confident throughout, as he stopped shots, controlled rebounds, and even shut down Stamkos on a breakaway. Skating in front of the net-minder all playoffs long was Duncan Keith. The incredible defensemen was rewarded for his play when he received the Conn Smythe trophy, which recognizes the most valuable player of the playoffs.
It what truly was a team effort, the Hawks seemed to get huge contributions from just about everybody. Antoine Vermette, who was acquired in a mid-season trade, scored three game winning goals, and won just about every face-off. 20-year old Teuvo Teravainen dazzled at times, scoring a goal in the first two games of the Lightning series. Brandon Saad was electric all playoffs long, and has truly established himself as an impact player on this team.
This Stanley Cup is the third for the Blackhawks core seven. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Marian Hossa and Niklas Hjalmarsson are what make this team tick. Jonathan Toews is the first captain with three or more Stanley Cups by the age of 27 since Wayne Gretzky. Not bad company. The job done by Joe Quenneville cannot be overstated. Constantly pressing all of the right buttons, Coach Q is simply the best in the business.
The celebration continues on Thursday with the official championship parade. Don’t miss out!
Congratulations to the Chicago Blackhawks. What a season. What a run. What a team.
Photo Source: Bleacher Report