June 24th. A date that will forever be a prominent footnote in the history of the Chicago Blackhawks, as well as Chicago sports. It was on June 24th in 2006, the Blackhawks drafted future star captain, Jonathan Toews, and June 24th 2013, they won their 2nd Stanley Cup in 4 years.
Going into Game 6, the Blackhawks needed to defeat the Boston Bruins, in Boston in order to officially win the Stanley Cup. The Bruins, with their backs firmly pressed against the wall, pushed back with great strength through total desperation. The first period was all Boston. The Bruins simply dominated the Hawks, up and down the ice. It was clear early on that the Bruins weren’t going to go quietly into the night. The Hawks were out muscled and out hustled up and down the humidity created slop of an ice surface. Eventually, Boston’s hard work paid off, as Chris Kelly buried a shot to make it 1-0 Boston. Luckily for the Hawks, it would remain 1-0 at going into the first intermission, as Boston totally dominated the pace and flow of the first period.
The Bruins came out flying once again, in the 2nd period, but this time the Hawks came out flying also as they were propelled by their lethally stingy Penalty Kill, in what was essentially a very evenly matched period. Ironically, the Hawks evened the score of the game with an even number of skaters on the ice, as Jonathan Toews stole the puck from Bruin’s star defenseman, Zdeno Chara, and threaded the puck through the 5-hole of Tuuka Rask, to even the score at 1-1. Whereas Boston controlled the first period of play, the Hawks overall won the second period of play, to tie the game, and it was anyone’s guess what would happen in the third period.
And not one person would have guessed what would happen.
If anyone says they knew how the third period would go down, they are lying.
Much like a mix of the first two periods, the third was a back and forth contest, with both teams getting their fair share of chances to take the lead. However, it would be Milan Lucic who would break the tie, as he pushed a rolling puck past Corey Crawford to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead, with about 8:00 minutes left in regulation. A late Power Play, with about 5 minutes to play, proved to be fruitless for the Hawks, and it as quickly becoming all but certain, that there would be a Game 7, in Chicago. In a final act of desperation, just for the opportunity to have a second life in overtime, Blackhawks head coach, Joel Quenneville, pulled Crawford from the net in favor of an extra attacker, with about 90 seconds remaining. With approximately 75 seconds remaining, Bryan Bickell tied the game, off of a beautiful pass from Toews. While Hawks fans every where were jumping in a unified sigh of relief due to the fact that it looked like the Hawks had another overtime period, to finish this game, and walk off with the cup, they forgot how crazy and unpredictable playoff hockey can get. Just 17 seconds after Bickell tied the game at 2-2, and all of Hawks Nation was happy and content that the game seemed likely to head to overtime, Dave Bolland slipped a rebound past Rask, and into the net, to give the Hawks a 3-2 lead, after what will arguably go down as the most exciting 17 seconds in Chicago sports history. After what Patrick Sharp described as the longest 58 seconds of hockey, ever, the Hawks closed out the series, the playoffs, and the 2013 season as they had won Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Enjoy it, celebrate it, whatever or however you wish to do it, because you never know when or if this will ever happen again. The lockout seems like decades ago, because Hawks Fever has broken out in Hawks Nation like never be for, and right now, there has never been a better time to have been infected with it. To use one of the most overused words in the English language, this is truly epic, in ever sense of the word. It’s probably taking a while to sink in, as a lot happened tonight. A lot of it in an insanely short amount of time. Don’t think about next season.
Don’t stress about contracts, salary caps, and free agents. Just don’t! Right now, everything is right in Hawks Nation, so just enjoy it, for yourself.
Congratulations to Patrick Kane for winning the Conn Smythe Trophy!
Congratulations to the 2013 Stanley Cup Champions, the Chicago Blackhawks! It was a season for the ages!