May 27, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) and Detroit Red Wings centerPavel Datsyuk
(13) battle for the puck in the third period in game six of the second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Joe Louis Arena. Chicago won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
After getting the monkey of no longer being able to win a playoffs series off their back, the Blackhawks were set to face their long-time division rival, Detroit Red Wings. This series would go down as an end of the Hawks/Wings rivalry of sorts, as the Red Wings and Blackhawks would no longer be playing in the same division, starting in 2013-2014, due to NHL realignment.
Game one, in Chicago would be all Blackhawks. The Hawks controlled the tempo and pace of the game throughout the entire 3 periods of play en route to a 4-1 victory. The Hawks took a 1-0 series lead, and were feeling invincible after a dominant performance.
The Red Wings would prove to the hockey world that the Hawks were not invincible, and just like any other team in the NHL, they could be vulnerable and beaten too. Much like the Hawks dominated the Wings in Game one, the Wings would dominate the Hawks in Game two. Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsuyk went into shutdown mode, and completely compromised the Hawks high-octane offense, as they embarassed the Hawks in front of their fans, at the United Center. The series was tied 1-1, and headed to Detroit. The Hawks were left a little worried after such an improbable loss at home.
Things would continue trending in the direction set after Game two, as the Red Wings continued to shutdown the Hawks offense. The game was scoreless until late in the second period, until the Wings scored two quick goals, that left the Hawks dazed and confused, and unable to recover from, as the Red Wings would go on to win 3-1 and take a 2-1 series lead, and with the next game to also be played in Detroit.
The Hawks would need a huge road win, that was starting to look like a much more daunting task than one would have imagined, just to even the series. Another loss would put the Hawks on the brink of elimination, and give the Red Wings the luxurious comfort of a 3-1 lead in the series.
Game four would be more of the same ugly story for the Hawks, as the Wings continued to stick with what works, as they completely neutralized the Hawks offense once again. This time it got to the point to where Jonathan Toews lost his cool. It was clear the Red Wings were in his head, which was bad news for the Hawks, if their captain couldn’t contain himself. The Red Wings went on to shutout the Hawks 2-0, and put the Hawks on the edge of elimination, with a 3-1 series lead, with Game five to be played in Chicago.
With the Hawks season one game away from being a major disappointment, the talk in Chicago was all doom and gloom. Many fans had all but completely written the season off, and pre-determined the Hawks would be eliminated. It’s fair to say that they had every right to think that. Everything was trending in the wrong direction for the Hawks, and it continually got worse every time they set foot on the ice. Rumors of heads rolling, coaches and personnel being fired, was a common topic being thrown around on sports talk radio. Frustration was at an all-time high, as Hawks Nation was forced to endure this very bleak and dark time.
It was anyone’s guess how Game 5 would go. A win would hold off elimination a bit longer, but even with a win, the Hawks would have to win in Detroit, and then AGAIN in Chicago, so a win wouldn’t exactly get the Hawks out of dire straits. The only way to win regain hope, would be to win in Game five, AND Game six, to bring the series to a 3-3 tie with Game seven to be played in Chicago.
One Game at a time, though. Game five, turned out to be a solid Hawks victory, that saw Jonathan Toews score his first playoff goal, a far cry from how his Game four went. With the win, the Hawks trailed the Red Wings 3-2, in the series. A win in Game six, in Motor City, would put the Red Wings on the brink of elimination with the Hawks, except this time, the Hawks would have all the momentum.
After the Hawks took an early lead in Game 6, the Red Wings stormed back to retake the lead, they were as desperate as the Hawks, in a way. The Hawks miraculously came back to win, and tie the series at 3-3, and were headed home to take on the Red Wings in an elimination game at the United Center.
Game seven would be as tight and hard-fought of a contest as they come. The game was tied 1-1 late in the 3rd period, when
appeared to have give the Hawks the lead, but his goal was waved off due to a questionable call to stop the play, due to a mini-scruff between near the teams benches, so…no goal…and the game would head to overtime. Hawks Nation was as tense as it had ever been, but thanks to
the tension would soon be relieved. Seabrook netted the game-winning, and series winning goal in overtime, and the
This epic series would be the turning point of the year. The Hawks needed to face severe adversity, which they really hadn’t faced any, all season, as they completely ran away from the Western Conference, during the regular season. The Hawks learned how to dig deeper, a quality that combined with their abundance of talent and depth, that is practically required to win a Stanley Cup. The comeback in this series was nothing short of miraculous, and the practical definition of a Disney-comeback story. It was also a fitting end to the great rivalry between the Blackhawks and Red Wings.