The 2013 season is now officially a once in a lifetime experience. All the accomplishments that were achieved in the regular season can now be honored with the hoisting of that mighty silver chalice. The playoffs almost feel like they were written as a script to a dramatic movie. The smooth first round victory left everyone feeling good about the road to the cup. Then round two came, and fear and despair started to break through as the Hawks went down 3-1 in the series. The mighty Blackhawks showed some perseverance, even after a terrible call on the ice disallowed a perfectly good goal. They came back and won it in overtime of game seven. The Hawks and the fans felt like things were back on track, and they found a new found respect for the challenges of the playoffs. Next in line were the aptly named Kings who were ready to do battle and defend their Cup. The Hawks broke through the heretofore impenetrable Jonathan Quick and proceeded to dethrone the Kings. Finally, the Hawks had one last opponent. The Bruins of Boston were the most balanced team from the Eastern Conference, much like the Hawks in the West. Wins were exchanged and tempers soared as the two teams faced off. In the end of game six, the Bruins appeared to be poised to force a game seven in Chicago. Instead, the Hawks would rally with less than two minutes remaining to bring home the cup for the second time in four years.
- The Hardware: Six pieces of hardware were won this amazing season. The Stanley Cup, The Campbell Bowl (Western Conference Champion), The President’s Trophy (best regular season record), The Selke Trophy (Best Defensive Forward: Jonathan Toews), The Con Smythe (playoff MVP: Patrick Kane), and The Jennings (least goals against/best goalie tandem: Corey Crawford/Ray Emery).
- The Records: I don’t know exactly how many records the team actually ended up setting this season in total due to the fact that some are obscure trivia records. The main ones though are most consecutive wins in regulation/point streak to start a season, most consecutive wins for a goalie to start a season, longest win streak in franchise history, and best playoff goaltending stats in franchise history. There were two more records set during game six regarding how the cup was won. The Hawks scored the latest Cup-winning goal in regulation time in Stanley Cup Final history (19:01), and they were the first NHL team to overcome a one goal deficit with such little left, a mere two mintues.
- Injuries: It’s always mind boggling to find out what everyone played through after the cup is won. Marian Hossa was playing with a slipped disk in his back, which pinched a nerve causing numbness in his leg and foot. Michal Handzus played through a broken wrist and a torn MCL. Bryan Bickell scored the game tying goal on a grade two knee sprain. Those are the officially announced injuries, and you can only guess what the others are. Speculation is that Toews was playing with an injured left wrist and a concussion.
- The Unsung Heroes: Bolland gets the game winning goal, and maybe that’s a fitting end to what had been a very rough season for him. But the person that deserves just as much credit as Dave Bolland on that play, if not more, is Michael Frolik. Frolik redirects Johnny Oduya’s shot which flies past Tuukka Rask and rings off the pipe, bouncing perfectly to Bolland, allowing him to score the GWG. Without that redirection, Rask gobbles up the puck and play stops. Frolik and Kruger were nothing short of outstanding, and their presence only grew stronger as the series went on.
- The Puck: While the mystery of the game winning puck of 2010 has never been officially solved, the Blackhawks didn’t repeat that conundrum in 2013. While the players may not have collected the puck, John McDonough did. It’s great to see the management looking out for the team, especially with all the celebrating that needed to be done.
The Cup parade is scheduled for Friday, and the city of Chicago couldn’t be more excited. We may never witness another Hawks season as amazing as this one. The Hawks brought a touch of magic to hockey fans who suffered through and endured an overly lengthy off season. One last thought to leave you with, training camp starts in less than 100 days! Hockey won’t be gone for long, Chicago!