By Sidney Brown, WARR contributor
The 2013 Chicago Blackhawks are the NHL’s Stanley Cup Champions once again, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat 3-2 Monday and clinching their series with the Boston Bruins in six games after an amazing 17-second stretch that will live with hockey fans for a long time.
This series has seen epic highs and lows and Game 6 would live up to expectations. The start of Monday’s epic contest looked bleak for lovers of the Hawks as Boston started off hot and would strike soon into the proceedings as third liner Chris Kelly scored his second goal of the playoffs and of this series at 7:19 in the 1st period, giving the home team an early 1-0 lead.
Chicago tried to respond midway through the period when fourth-liner Michael Frolik busted through the Bruins defense for a breakaway chance but he was turned away by Tuukka Rask. The Bruins opening period domination showed on the scoresheet, with Boston doubling the Hawks on shots on goal with a 12-6 advantage.
As the second period began, the Hawks delivered their counter punch as captain Jonathan Toews, who returned from his big hit and injury in Game 5, scored his third goal of the playoffs right off a faceoff at 4:24, tying the score up. Watching this game, you got the feeling that Monday would produce a classic Hollywood finish. As the third period began, Boston delivered a dramatic punch as Milan Lucic netted his seventh goal of the playoffs (12:11), regaining the lead for the Bruins at 2-1.
As time ticked away, the mood in TD Garden made it seem as if preparations were looming ahead for a potential Game 7 in Chicago, but as they have all season long — and especially through the playoffs — the Hawks responded like champions.
The ultimate dramatic stretch started with just under two minutes left in the 3rd period. First, with six attackers and Hawks goalie Corey Crawford on the bench, winger Bryan Bickell netted home his ninth goal of the playoffs and first of the series (18:44) tying the score at 2-2. Another overtime period, what would have been the sixth of the series, seemed inevitable but the Hawks quickly delivered their knockout punch as Dave Bolland scored his third goal of the playoffs at 19:01, giving Chicago a 3-2 lead and providing the 2013 NHL season with its final final score.
The Bruins would make their last, desperate push but the Hawks shut the door and clinched their second Cup title in four years. The soldout crowd at TD garden in Boston were in shock after the Game 6 collapse that should wake echoes of the fall of 1986. Bill Buckner has just been joined in Boston sports history by this latest epic collapse by the Bruins.
Both goalies played outstanding — Rask kept his team in the game, making 25 saves with a .903% save percentage. Answering his critics for the final time this season, Crawford owned his goal, collecting 15 saves and posting a .920% save percentage. In Crawford’s honor, my only message to the Bruins and all those that doubted the Hawks and Crawford at any point this season is in the words of the great LL Cool J from his 1991 hit song — “Mama said KNOCK YOU OUT!”
My Game Pucks for Game 6 go to Bryan Bickell, Dave Bolland, Patrick Kane and Corey Crawford. Thank you all for bringing this historic season to a fantastic finish, your efforts in Game 6 will be treasured forever.
First, to the Hawks penalty kill unit for shutting down the Bruins on their man advantage (0-4). This unit was great all year long, improving tremendously from last year, MUCH RESPECT.
Second, to Hawks defenseman Johnny Oduya, who has been a liability at times in these playoffs, for delivering the key assist on Bolland’s game winning goal.
Third, to Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron for returning to the lineup from injury and giving his team an emotional lift by playing 17:45 for the game and providing two hits.
Next, props to Hawks superstar Patrick Kane for winning the 2013 Conn Smythe Trophy for Playoff MVP. Kaner totaling 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) in the postseason and became only the fourth American born player to receive the Conn Smythe.
Last but definitely not least, props to Hawks second year phenom Andrew Shaw for taking a shot to the face in the 1st period and staying in the game and for letting the blood drip from his face as he skated with the Stanley Cup during the passing of the Cup, displaying his toughness and sacrifice for the team while celebrating across the ice at TD Garden.
First, the Hawks power play went 0-2 in the power play, yet this didn’t keep Game 6 from being their season finale, THANK GOODNESS!. I’m exiting stage left and reserving any further comments on the power play until next year.
Second, Bruins forwards Brad Marchand and Nathan Horton combined for two shots on goal and 0 points.
Third, as the Hawks players were winding down their passing the Cup around center ice, NBC decided to cut its coverage and said goodbye. While waiting to see the Hawks take a team picture on center ice, the network broadcast went black and I had to turn to NBC Sports Network to see the conclusion to the on ice celebration.
In 2010, NBC showed the Hawks center ice team picture in Philadelphia before leaving the air, this time around, the team picture was shown on their cable channel. To that, I say that decision by the executives was DUMB! Everyone deserves to see the entire ceremony, it’s a treasure like no other in sports.
A Salute to Champions
The historic streak of 24 games without a regulation loss, winning the President’s Trophy for best record in the NHL, coming back from 3-1 against Detroit, dismissing the-then defending cup champs LA Kings in five games, surviving the physical stance from the Boston Bruins — for all of these accomplishments and more, for everything that played a role in capturing this year’s Stanley Cup, my hat is off to the 2013 Chicago Blackhawks, GREAT JOB!
Give the Boston Bruins much credit for making this series one of the best that I’ve ever seen.
The climatic ending to Game 6 is one of the most amazing things that I’ve ever seen to clinch a title. The ending to the 2010 Stanley Cup title with Patrick Kane’s overtime goal was historic, but the comeback and finish to this 2013 Cup title — scoring two goals in 17 seconds? Come on! — will forever live in Blackhawk hockey lore.
A standing ovation is deserved for the NHL, NBC, the Hawks front office, its coaching staff, the players and of course the Hawks fans and the city of Chicago for giving this franchise a second chance after years of the team seeming like a second-class franchise. The forgotten team of Chicago? With two titles in four years, not any more, now the Hawks own Chicago!
And last but not least, to my editor Mr. Kyle Means, THANK YOU! It’s has been one incredible ride to not just watch another championship but to write about it, letting people all over the world read my thoughts. The whole Regal Radio staff, along with our listeners and readers, all deserve a piece of the Stanley Cup!
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