|The Blackhawks pose for a team photo with the Stanley Cup.
Getty Images/Charles Krupa
The Blackhawks are Stanley Cup champions for the second time in four years. They stunned the Bruins by coming back to win Game Six 3-2 in epic fashion. Chicago pulled it off by scoring two goals in 17 seconds to reverse a potential Game Seven to a thrilling victory.
Milan Lucic put the Bruins ahead 2-1 with under eight minutes left. He took a David Krejci feed and beat Corey Crawford to put Boston 7:49 away from forcing a seventh game. How close were they? Tyler Seguin nearly made it 3-1 with two minutes remaining. Cam Neely thought so and jumped up in the press box prematurely.
What happened next was the craziest ending to a Cup in recent memory. With Crawford pulled for an extra attacker, the Hawks pushed for the equalizer. In a board battle, Duncan Keith kept the play alive pushing a loose puck to Jonathan Toews. The Chicago captain, who scored a goal despite being questionable made a spectacular pass across to Bryan Bickell who tied it with 1:16 left. I was covering a Staten Island Yankee game but had the game on my laptop and heard cheering. I checked and couldn’t believe it. I put it down for a second and then heard more cheers. To my amazement, the Hawks were celebrating again after Dave Bolland slammed home the Cup clincher with under a minute to go. Ex-Devil Johnny Oduya’s shot was redirected by Michael Frolik off Tuukka Rask right to Bolland, who beat Johnny Boychuk to the puck.
The bizarre sequence will be replayed in Boston players’ heads for quite some time. How they lost was indescribable. On home ice no less. One of the stingiest defensive teams fell apart. Zdeno Chara had a rough series as did partner Dennis Seidenberg. However, you don’t expect what happened because it rarely ever does. Chicago wanted no part of a seventh game. Can you blame them? Anything was possible. These same Bruins found a way against Vancouver. As banged up as they were, I wouldn’t have put it passed them. Patrice Bergeron played with broken ribs, torn cartilage and suffered a separated shoulder during Game 6. What a warrior. It was also revealed that Michal Handzus played through a broken wrist and torn MCL. He wanted to win his first Cup that badly. Quite a pickup for the Hawks.
What separates hockey players from most other sports is their pain threshold. These grown men will do whatever it takes to win. The display we saw in the first Original Six Cup since 1979 was a classic battle between two great teams. Three games went to overtime including Chicago’s pivotal 6-5 win in Game Four that swung the momentum. Brent Seabrook’s second OT winner changed the series. The Bruins were a goal away from going up 3-1. A predicament the Hawks faced in the second round before rallying back to beat the Red Wings. Instead, they evened the series and then took Game Five 3-1 on the strength of two goals from Conn Smythe winner Patrick Kane. Kane came to life tallying a goal and helper in the fifth game after being put back with Toews by Joel Queeneville. His hat trick eliminated the Kings. He led the Hawks with 19 points (9-10-19). Kane became the fourth American to win the Conn Smythe, joining Brian Leetch and recent recipients Tim Thomas and Jon Quick.
When Toews was handed the Cup by commissioner Gary Bettman, he handed it to Handzus who was a vet that hadn’t won. It then went to Jamal Mayers and former Ranger Michal Rozsival, who summed it up perfectly by screaming “Oh my God.” Good for Rozsival. He took a lot of abuse here but was a solid player who helped our team turn it around. He played well as did Oduya. Now, both have their names etched on Lord Stanley. Ironic how things work out.
Having a Boston friend who had to be torn up about how they lost, I sent her a text congratulating the Bruins on a great run. She thanked me and spoke of how proud she was of what they accomplished. They brought a city together in similar fashion to how the 2001 Yankees did. That Yankee team is still the one I cherish the most. Boston did themselves proud and were Boston Strong till the end. Considering that there wasn’t any hockey for so long, this lockout season turned out alright. Boston and Chicago gave us a great ride. One of the best Cups in quite some time. Thank you to both.
Congrats to the Blackhawks. They truly were the best team from start to finish. Two Cups in four years for a franchise that once went nearly 40 years without one. Toews and Kane changed all that. They’re a terrific organization. Top notch.