After 49 years of heartache and misery more or less for an original 6 franchise the Chicago Blackhawks fought off the Philadelphia Flyers to win the Stanley Cup 4-3 in OT in what some call one of the greatest and most exciting games resulting in an anti-climatic finish. Anti-Climatic you say? Maybe for NHL and Flyer fans but most definitely not the Chicago fan base, prior to the Hawks scoring the OT winner did we expect an uproar from the Flyer fans? Not at all. Patrick Kane, after an incredible individual effort, went screaming past the official with his hands up in the air almost knocking the referee down in the process, the ref had no clue what was going on (like most officials) and the Blackhawks were celebrating like it was 1961. Literally
The referees attempted to be a storyline in this game but realized in the final frame they need to let these guys play.
Through the first 8 minutes or so it looked like the on ice officials were actually going to let these 2 great teams play for once without all the mickey mouse calls but Chris Pronger took the first hooking call then the referees decided they wanted to be part of the show and were calling every possible infraction if it was an actual penalty or not up until the end of the 2nd period. Then the 3rd period was completely different with no calls made and NHL fans witnessed some great hockey and that’s how it should have been played out for the entire game let alone the series and entire playoffs. One can compare it to baseball umpires, through the first inning they show their strike zone and in most cases it is called the same way throughout the game. Hockey officials should do the same, call it one way right off the bat and keep it the same throughout. I am not one to ridicule or whine about officials but something has to be said and hopefully the big cheese Gary Bettman addresses this in the off-season.
Chicago dominated most of the game with their speed, physicality and their forte’ puck possession style of play.
Outshooting the Flyers 17-7 in the first frame with multiple scoring chances the Hawks could have scored 3 goals easily if it were not for the play of Michael Leighton. Dustin Byfuglien scored late in the period but the Flyers, like they have all series long, answered right back and scored later in the period to tie the game 1-1 going into the second intermission.
That late goal appeared to pay dividends as Philadelphia came out with some aggression and heavy forechecking and managed to take the lead on a fantastic goal by Danny Briere. Hawk fans figured the tide had turned and trouble was brewing but the Hawks stepped up to the plate and “Mr.Clutch” Patrick Sharp potted one past Leighton to tie the game and turn the momentum back to the Blackhawks side. With just over 2 minutes remaining Andrew Ladd once again proved his worth and scored to give the Hawks a 3-2 lead heading into the 3rd period and only 20 extremely long minutes from hoisting the cup in Philadelphia.
Chicago played the third period perfectly for the first 10 minutes as they were pressing and creating scoring chances putting the Flyer fans into complete shock and utter disbelief as this is not what they expected for the beginning of the third period for their desperate hockey team. However, Chicago decided to sit back and play defensive going with a one man forecheck for the latter half of the 3rd period and it cost them late in the game as the Flyers tied the game with just under 4 minutes to go. It was almost inevitable as the Hawks took the foot off the gas and Philly put theirs to the floor.
The overtime was somewhat of a thriller albeit ended a short 4:06 into the period. Brent Seabrook was caught up ice a bit and the Flyers had an opportune chance to end it but Seabrook managed to get into position and make a diving play to swat the puck towards Niemi and Antti shot it aside safely. Moving forward, Patrick Kane had possession to the right of Leighton and like all game the puck stuck to his stick like glue, he dipsy doodled around and started driving to the net and snapped a beauty shot by Leighton’s low glove side in which only Kane knew it was a good goal.
A season fulfilled with questions, drama and off-season incidents resulted in the ultimate prize for the Blackhawks.
Every team has it’s issues of course but the Blackhawks definitely had some of their own
- Dale Tallon was removed from his position as he was ridiculed by many for not sending out qualifying offers to some of his key restricted free agents in the likes of Cam Barker and Kris Versteeg on time. On top of that it seemed he had no consideration of the salary cap signing players to big deals such as the Hossa and Huet signings. With that said, Tallon was a huge part of this team and in my opinion built this club to win the cup. And they did. Dale is now off to Florida where I am sure he will do a fantastic job rebuilding that franchise and I sure hope the Blackhawks realize what positives Dale did for the Hawk organization and get him a Stanley Cup ring.
- How ridiculous is the Hossa curse thing that media loved to hype up. Sure, the guy played for 2 stanley cup contending teams and both failed to win, whatever. In the 3rd period maybe this curse thing looked to be real as the tying Flyer goal went off of Hossa’s leg and found it’s way to the net but that is a fluke and not a curse. Hossa was arguably one of the best Hawk forwards throughout the playoffs and most definitely proved his worth and shut his critics up by lifting that cup high above his head when it was handed to him by Jonathan Toews.
- Kane’s cab incident was truly a unique one, I won’t get into it because everyone knows the story but this story was elevated by Hawk haters in saying that the Hawks will not overcome an off ice incident like this one and will just add to the Hawks woes. Those haters were wrong.
- Vancouver night life photos which Kane was also part of was just one other issue Hawk haters loved to see. The photos also included veteran John Madden.
- Many said the trip to Europe to start the season would eventually wear out the Hawks which it may have but not for long.
- People said the Hawks had too many players in the Olympics and again would be too burnt out to do anything spectacular once the regular season started again after the Olympic games.
- Chicago’s questionable goaltending was the hot topic for the entire year and the Hawks still did not know who their starting goaltender was with 2 weeks remaining in the regular season.
These are just a few of the obstacles Chicago had to overcome and I would say they did a fine job doing it wouldn’t you?
The entire Hawk team had a great year but how about Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith performances?
Toews won the gold medal in Vancouver, achieved MVP status for the best forward, Conn Smythe winner of the NHL playoffs and ultimately a Stanley Cup Champion. Not a bad few items to add to his resume. Duncan Keith was arguably the best defenseman in the Olympics, nominated for the Norris trophy and now a Stanley Cup champion. It cost Duncan 7 precious teeth but I am sure he is OK with that.
In ending, the blackhawks had 4 extremely tough series against NAS, VAN, SJ and PHI respectively which each series getting more difficult as the playoffs went on. Long time Chicago Blackhawk supporters and even the new fans should be proud of what this team has overcome and achieved this year and look forward to many more years of competitive hockey with the great nucleus of players locked up as the core of this team.
The cup is back where it belongs and Chicago Blackhawk hockey is here to stay.
Congratulations Hawks and Hawk fans we are Stanley Cup Champions!
About the Author
Written by Trent Kondo
An all around sports fan and has been a Chicago BlackHawks supporter longer then he can remember. Currently writes for Prosportsblogging.com on the Blackhawks and NHLHotstove.com on the Edmonton Oilers. (If you would like to email feel free to contact Trent at TKONHOCKEY@gmail.com )