3. 2014-15 Chicago Blackhawks
Coming into the 2014-15 NHL season, stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews signed big deals to keep them in Chicago until 2023. The year prior, Chicago was defending the Stanley Cup they won in 2013 deep into the 2014 playoffs, where they were one goal short of getting a shot to repeat as champs. The Blackhawks losing to the Los Angeles Kings in overtime in Game 7, after a huge comeback down 3-1 in the series, was like a dagger stabbed into the hearts of Blackhawks’ fans and players alike.
Once the season started, we all got to see what the newly re-signed stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews had to offer. The team struggled early, but went on an 8-game winning streak in late November, to solidify their place in the NHL standings and make the rest of the West fear them.
After finishing the season 48-28-6 for a total of 102 points, and the 3rd spot in the Central Division, the Blackhawks would travel to Nashville to start their playoff run.
If it wasn’t for the spectacular play out of goalie Scott Darling, we wouldn’t even be talking about a 3rd Stanley Cup in 6 seasons. Darling put the team on his back and helped them rally for a Game 1 win in 2OT. The Blackhawks would take a 3-1 series lead and finish the series on home ice during Game 6 to send them to the 2nd round.
The 2nd round series was an easier matchup for the Blackhawks where they blew past their divisional rival, the Minnesota Wild, who struggled a lot against Chicago during the Joel Quenneville era, in 4 games.
The 2015 Western Conference Finals was an exciting series for both the Blackhawks and the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks had the Blackhawks on their heels with a 3-2 series lead, but Chicago bounced back, taking the next 2 games and punching their ticket to face Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals.
For some reason, Tampa Bay was favored to win this series. The Blackhawks had only lost 5 games during their playoff run so far and were the most successful team during this era.
Even though Chicago fell behind 2-1 in the series, they would go on to win the last 3 games and win their most recent Stanley Cup.
If they would have gotten past the LA Kings in 2014, would they have won 3 Stanley Cups in a row? Would they have lost motivation to prove the doubters wrong? Those questions will never be answered, but it is interesting to think about.