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Top Chicago Blackhawks Playoff Wins: Plan All Along

By Colin Likas
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Being that it happened recently, we all remember Teuvo Teravainen and Antoine Vermette getting yanked in and out of the Chicago Blackhawks lineup during the 2015 Stanley Cup run. What coach Joel Quenneville was trying to do or prove wasn’t exactly clear, but he sure looked like a genius when Game 1 of the Cup Final rolled around.

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We’re getting ever closer to the top spot on this list, and some truly unforgettable moments will start coming up. Is this one of them in the long term? I think so, but for now, it also ranks pretty high in our countdown of most memorable Blackhawks playoff wins under Q.

Note: Check out the previous entries in this series at the end of this post.

No. 21: 2015 Stanley Cup Final, Game 1

Chicago Blackhawks 2, Tampa Bay Lightning 1

This marked the beginning of Chicago’s third Stanley Cup Final appearance in the last six seasons, while it was the first for the Lightning since they won the chalice in 2004, the final championship matchup before the lockout. Tampa came out quick in this one, jamming away at the puck all around Corey Crawford in the opening 30 seconds.

The Lightning would need long to make their hard work pay off, although a quirky goal got the scoring started in this series. Steven Stamkos dumped the puck into the corner to Crawford’s left, and Valtteri Filppula beat Duncan Keith to it. Filppula sent it back to Anton Stralman at the point, and he wired a shot toward Crawford. Alex Killorn was standing in front of Crow and managed to whack the puck out of the air awkward angle, but his backhander sent it perfectly between Crow and the post to put Tampa ahead less than five minutes in.

Stay in the Eastern Conference. (Screenshot from YouTube)

The Blackhawks didn’t have much to write home about as far as scoring chances in the first period, one of their better ones coming late on the powerplay when Patrick Kane got in tight to Ben Bishop and tried to go short side with a wrister. Bishop managed to freeze the puck but seemed uncertain about that, so Kane went in for some extra whacks, drawing the ire of the massive Victor Hedman. Andrew Shaw, who you may note is not a whole lot larger than Kane, was immediately into the scrum to deal with Hedman himself.

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Chicago had two more powerplay bids in the second, but too much passing and not enough shooting plagued the man-advantage efforts. Ryan Callahan had some of the better opportunities for Tampa in the middle period, getting the puck on net and standing near Crawford for deflection opportunities as well.

The theme of Stamkos struggling to score in this series started late in this game’s second period, when he won a draw in his own zone and then went to the doorstep in front of Crawford for a behind-the-net bid from Killorn. Crow came up with maybe his best save of the evening, stoning one of the NHL’s best forwards from a very short distance on a clean look.

Business finally started to pick up for the Blackhawks in the third period (shots on goal for the game were only 23-21 in favor of Tampa, so there weren’t many noteworthy scoring bids). But one of them came more than halfway through that frame when a Blackhawks offensive play was turned the other way for a Callahan breakaway. He got a clean wrister away that Crawford padded aside to keep the game tight.

The Blackhawks would reward their goaltender for his hard work on that play by finally lighting the lamp moments later. Shaw and Keith won some very tight board battles while Teuvo snuck into position above the circle to Bishop’s right. Keith dished the puck to Teuvo, who one-timed a shot through heavy traffic, which included Shaw and Marcus Kruger. The shot didn’t hit anyone or anything, but Bishop just couldn’t see it and the puck found its way into the twine to finally tie the game with less than seven minutes to go in regulation.

So that’s one “redemption story,” making Q look like a genius for getting Teuvo back out there on the biggest stage. Let’s go for two.

This one was created by a dogged forecheck from Teuvo and Patrick Sharp, who both created all kinds of trouble for the Lightning in their defensive zone. Teuvo actually created a turnover from Hedman, who was mostly impressive in this series, and that gave a chance to Vermette right between the circles. He didn’t miss on a wrist shot at Bishop, and the Blackhawks had stunned the Amalie Arena crowd in going up 2-1 with less than five minutes to play.

The Lightning went out relatively meekly after that, perhaps shocked by what had occurred, as the Blackhawks won the game, drew first blood in the series and stole home-ice advantage, a very important factor considering Tampa would mount a comeback over the next two games.

But this one wound up being all about Teuvo and Vermette, the two guys who just couldn’t get a fair shake until it mattered most. Thanks, Mad Genius Quenneville.

Previous entries

No. 22 | No. 23 | No. 24 | No. 25 | No. 26 | No. 27 | No. 28 | No. 29 | No. 30 | No. 31 | No. 32 | No. 33 | No. 34 | No. 35 | No. 36 | No. 37 | No. 38 | No. 39 | No. 40 | No. 41 | No. 42 | No. 43 | No. 44 | No. 45 | No. 46 | No. 47 | No. 48 | No. 49 | No. 50 | No. 51 | No. 52 | No. 53 | No. 54 | No. 55 | No. 56 | No. 57 | No. 58 | No. 59 | No. 60 | No. 61 | No. 62 | No. 63 | No. 64 | No. 65 | No. 66 | No. 67 | No. 68 | No. 69 | No. 70 | No. 71 | No. 72 | No. 73

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