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The Stanley Cup Returns to Chicago

16 Jun

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What a year this has been for the Chicago Blackhawks. Yes, the team won’t be the same next season, but it’s great to enjoy one last Cup with this core and with all the new faces. And to be honest, the team will still contend for years to come. The Hawks, after all, will still have players like Kane, Toews, Hossa, and Keith, and management has made it their #1 priority to lock Brandon Saad up for a long time. Plus, rising stars like Teravainen, Van Riemsdyk, and Panarin will be extremely fun to watch next year. Enough about next season, though. Let’s take a look back at my top moments of the playoffs:

1st Round, Game One: Darling shuts down the Predators

The Hawks probably wouldn’t be where they’re at right now without Scott Darling. Crawford was extremely shaky in the Predators series, and the backup goalie/brick wall from Chicago took over. He pretty much did everything in OT but score the game-winner, and it was a big first win for the Hawks in the playoffs.

1st Round, Game Six: Keith beats Rinne

Duncan Keith–aka Conn Smythe winner–fired the game-winner by Pekka Rinne near the end of the third period and after a mad scramble by the Hawks in front of the net. It was a thrilling goal that sent the Hawks to round two–with Corey Crawford back in net–and it capped off an excellent series that also saw a 3OT win by Chicago in Game Four.

2nd Round, Game Four: Hawks hold on

This is just one example of why hockey is so thrilling. Just when you thought it was over, the Wild stormed back to make it a 4-3 game, but the Hawks were able to hold on and complete the sweep. This was a pretty surprising result, as many people believed this was finally Minnesota’s year; after all, this was their best team in three years.

Conference Final, Game Four: Vermette’s Double OT winner

Antoine Vermette more than proved himself worthy of the first round pick and Dahlbeck throughout these playoffs–he and Teuvo were great together–and this was a huge, huge win for the Hawks. Everything about this goal was perfect: the call, the rebound, the angle, etc. etc. etc.

Conference Final, Game Five: Toews Unleashed

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Although the Hawks ended up losing this game on a stupid Bickell move–kudos to Versteeg for playing so well in place of Bickell–the comeback at the end of regulation by the Hawks is something I’ll remember for a while. The Captain had that look in his eyes near the end of the game, and he wound up scoring two goals to open up game seven as well. Take a seat, Corey Perry.

Stanley Cup Final, Game Four: Crawford and the Hawks survive

How the hell did the Bolts not score? Most intense moment of the playoffs for me.

Stanley Cup Final, Game Six: Hawks win it at home

The Cup Final was a brilliant series between two teams who played similar styles of hockey, and the scores of the first five games were all one goal differences. Still, game six happened: Patrick Kane finally broke through, the Hawks solidified themselves as 33-0-0 this season when leading heading into the third, and the Hawks won on home ice for the first time in 70-some years. Also give it up for Crawford, who held the team that beat Lundqvist and Price to a grand total of 2 goals over a critical three game stretch at the end. I am truly lucky to be able to experience this three times in six years.

One final thanks to the team, especially those top four defensemen for somehow playing that many minutes. And one final thanks to all the players who won’t be back next year (Sharpie, you’ve been with this team for a long, long time). Please keep Seabrook and Saad, Bowman. Somehow, just do it.

Also: big shout out to Blackhawks legend Stan Mikita, who is suffering from dementia and isn’t able to celebrate along with all of us. It’s a heartbreaking story to hear, and my heart goes out to his family. What a player he was.

Superstitions: I did not wash my Sharp shirt for the entire playoff run.

Tampa Bay injuries: Once again showing you why hockey players are the toughest people in sports. Torn groin for Bishop, broken wrist for Johnson.

And finally, some pictures:

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Kimmo Timonen, a class act, finally getting to raise the Cup before retirement:

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And as requested by regular commenter Hepburn3, some photos from my time at the 2013 parade (I won’t be going this year):

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Hockey is awesome. Nothing else in sports like playoff hockey, and the handshake line is always classy. Can’t wait for the fall. Damn LA Kings will probably be back to take on the Hawks.

Your turn, Cubs.

Photo credit: Denver Post, ABC News

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9 Responses to “The Stanley Cup Returns to Chicago”

  1. #peggyatthemovies June 16, 2015 at 1:18 am #

    Congrats!!!!

  2. Jay June 16, 2015 at 11:07 am #

    Good job, Chicago!

  3. Hepburn3 June 16, 2015 at 1:09 pm #

    HUZZAH FOR THE BLACKHAWKS! It WAS a good series!
    Nice photos of the previous 2013 parade PB! Thanks for sharing them. Too bad that you will not be going to the latest parade! 🙂
    I love hockey because it such a fast, tough, skillful game and because yes it is our GAME! 😉
    I love that the Stanley Cup is a real team effort and I love that every player even the non players involved on the team get to hoist the cup! I love that in the end there is always the handshake between the two teams and the scruffy playoff beards ( that NBC guy is way off about that!).
    I look forward to next season and what will happen to my extremely beleaguered Leafs now that we have Brendan Shananhan and a new coach Mike Babcock, they work well together in Detroit so I hope that they can rebuild the Leafs!
    Good posting and congratulations to your team!
    p.s. never mind the LA KIngs! 😉

    • polarbears16 June 16, 2015 at 1:28 pm #

      So happy you guys got Babcock! Hope he can move the franchise in the right direction. The cup needs to return to Canada at some point! 🙂

      • Hepburn3 June 16, 2015 at 1:35 pm #

        Yes it does! 🙂

  4. royjeffords June 16, 2015 at 11:54 pm #

    Great series! Congrats to the ‘Hawks! Was glad to see a former Louisiana Ice Gator hoist the Cup.

  5. JustMeMike June 17, 2015 at 11:29 am #

    Hey PB –

    Congrats on your Hawks carrying off the Stanley. I was so disappointed when the Lightning knocked my team, the Rangers, out in the Semis. And even though I am only an hour away from Tampa – I don’t support the Lightning. So I shed no tears at all for their defeat.

    For me, as a Rangers fan, it is back to the oh-so-familiar wait until next year.

    Switching topics – I am looking forward to the upcoming new season of True Detectives.

    • polarbears16 June 17, 2015 at 11:35 am #

      Thank you! I really like the Rangers and hope Lundqvist gets a Cup someday; his window is admittedly closing soon, and I don’t know exactly what the team’s cap situation is like (it’s not very good for the Hawks), but I’ve heard there are some tough contracts that are tying up the team soon. I would’ve loved to see a New York-Chicago Original Six matchup.

      I’m looking forward to TD as well. It’s getting pretty average reviews, but we’ll see for ourselves.

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