May 1, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Teuvo Teravainen (86) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal Minnesota Wild during the second period in game one of the second round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Lets stay with the numbers, 26-0-0, that’s the Blackhawks’ record this year when leading after two periods. If I’m not mistaken, “…We’re going to learn from this…” was said by Jonathan Toews after surrendering a two goal lead to Los Angeles in game 7 of the Western Conference Final last season. What the city of Chicago hoped he’d meant, what I even hoped he’d meant… was learning how to finish a game like the champions they are.
Thats the thing with this team, just when you think you’ve found something to exploit them – you’ll find they’ve been working on it for weeks – maybe longer. And you’re the one two steps behind. Sure, they can be beaten, but it’d be nice if everyone started being honest about it all. The Wild are up against Goliath, and if the Blackhawks aren’t careful, they could allow Minnesota to become a very worthy David.
We haven’t even taken into account the man standing behind the ‘Hawks bench, head coach Joel Quenneville. Of all the questioning that comes when the lines are changed and goalies are pulled – little is said of where the man stacks up against the best in the business – in history. He has the 7th highest win total of coaches all time with 1,295 – of active coaches he’s 1st, in front of Lindy Ruff with 1,250 and poor Ken Hitchcock with 1,242.
More over, and this is a personal issue, I’ll be more than honest about that. I’ve been frustrated with those that we all turn to for insight and the way they decide what to explain and honor each night or week on television and what they decide to negate. So, just for fun, I wanted to include a nice stat that few may know.
The NHL Network boasts itself as the place where, “the NHL gets their hockey”. I myself am tuned in most evenings. In October, they had twelve analyst pick their Stanley Cup Champion – SEVEN of them picked the Chicago Blackhawks. Before the playoffs began just a few weeks ago, another thirteen analyst had their choices posted on NHL.com – SEVEN still had the ‘Hawks bringing the Cup to Chicago – NINE had them advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals. What if the Hawks had beaten LA last season, what if they won the Cup? Would anyone be able to pick against the Hawks? This tournament is riddled with inexperience and the ‘Hawks have been in almost every situation that can arise. In those situations, history shows they’ve prevailed.
I guess myself and the other seven, or nine, are just stupid.
But I digress, at the end of the day, we’re watching a seven game series between two top notch organizations – clubs that care more about playing good hockey and less about slamming into boards and dropping the gloves. It’s intense, playoff hockey, but it’s respectful – it’s honorable. Watching Zach Parise and the Wild go as hard as Chicago expects Jonathan Toews and the ‘Hawks to go – it only makes the victories for both teams sweeter. The validation all the more real. We could be watching the Western Conference Final for all we know, and isn’t it exciting.
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It will be interesting to see how Devin Dubnyk responds Sunday evening. For the first time in his career he’ll be facing the Chicago Blackhawks in two back to back games – both in the United Center. If people think scary thoughts creeped into Corey Crawford’s head Friday night, just think about what Dubnyk’s dealing with. I expect him to deal with it fine, but again – when it comes down to tiny moments and the simple will to win… my money’s on the Chicago Blackhawks.
Pick: Blackhawks in 5