The two teams came into this series as polar opposites. The Vancouver Canucks were the President’s Trophy winners; the undisputed league leaders of the NHL. Though they’ve had a couple of cup runs, it’s been almost been 20 years since they’ve made it close to dancing with Lord Stanley. But with those unstoppable Sedins and their terrific netminder, the Vancouver Canucks came into the 2011 NHL playoffs as favorites for the ultimate prize.
The Chicago Blackhawks had gone almost half a decade before they won their second Stanley Cup, which came in 2010. But their season following the win was nothing worthy of a defending champion’s. There were several times where the Blackhawks’ playoff hopes seemed to be dashed. Well, they did make it into the postseason, but certainly they weren’t expected to become the focus of the entire playoffs.
The Blackhawks’ amazing resiliency and ability to bounce back from devastating losses has been the recurring theme of this series. They lost 3 back-to-back games to the Canucks and after game 3 it was almost unanimously agreed that Vancouver would swiftly end their cup pursuit in the following game. That was not the case. In fact, Chicago made it as difficult as possible for the Canucks to advance to the next round, winning the next 3 games in dramatic fashion (1 shutout and 2 overtime wins!) to force the unthinkable: the series had made it to a Game 7.
That theme continued on in Vancouver, where both teams knew they had to play their best early in order to avoid elimination. Corey Crawford was spectacular; though he let in a goal by Alex Burrows 2 minutes into the first period, he was forced to make amazing saves to keep Vancouver’s lead to just one throughout the following 2 frames. And just when the Canucks thought they had the win in the bag, captain Jonathan Toews stepped up, with a little over a minute left in the game, and seemingly willed a puck past Roberto Luongo.
There it was again. An astounding comeback by Chicago. When all hope seemed to have disappeared, they’d gone and tied it up. For the last time in the series, the Canucks and the Blackhawks were headed into overtime.
Unfortunately, the winning goal came not from Toews and team, but again from the Canucks’ Alex Burrows. Though they had fought back so hard after falling behind over and over again, the playoff journey for the Blackhawks was now over.
They may not have made it on to the second round but the Chicago Blackhawks created such a storyline with their battle against the top team in the league that it’s safe to say this series will go down in the books as one of the most exciting and incredible playoff moments in years.
About the Author
Written by Anna Santiago
26-year old sports writer from Calgary, Alberta. A hockey and basketball lover above all.