No. 4: Chicago Blackhawks vs. Detroit Red Wings, 2009
The first one of many things can usually be a test run, and that was certainly the case here. The Blackhawks were the young upstarts, making their first postseason appearance since 2002 and surprising Calgary and Vancouver en route to this position.
In their way of what would have been a wild Stanley Cup Final appearance was a Detroit team with a championship window closing fast. A large core group of players was aging out of the league, and they knew it was likely their last chance to do something great.
A true David vs. Goliath matchup would’ve seen the Blackhawks pull off a seven-game stunner or something to that effect, but the Wings weren’t having any of that. The Blackhawks actually obtained the series’ first goal — an unassisted effort by Adam Burish, of all people. But things quickly went south from there, with the Blackhawks losing Game 1 5-2 and Game 2 3-2.
The men in the Indian Head made sure they weren’t swept when Patrick Sharp tallied early in overtime of Game 3 (though the Blackhawks had blown a 3-0 advantage prior to that), but Detroit quickly put Chicago back in its place, ravaging them in a 6-1 Game 4 result.
The Blackhawks actually did go down with a fight in Game 5, but ultimately lost 2-1 in Detroit. The Wings went on to lose to Pittsburgh in the Cup Final. While the rivalry between these teams was still warmer than it is today, this series just didn’t run long enough and wasn’t balanced enough to be a memorable one.
Next: No. 3: Ends On Showtime