For 49 years, the Stanley Cup has eluded the city of Chicago, but thanks to an overtime goal by wing-man Patrick Kane, the drought is finally over. Tears of joy from Blackhawks past and present flooded the Windy City last night after Kane put one past Flyers goaltender Michael Leighton. Although for a moment, it seemed Kane himself was the only person in the Wachovia Center that knew it went in the net. Despite the lack of light in the lamp, Kane’s celebration was too pure to leave any doubt that the Blackhawks had finally done it.
A Stanley Cup Championship is an emotional victory regardless of the circumstances, but for Chicago, there is more to it than many could imagine. Expectations for this young and talented team have been high since the beginning of the season, and in a city that loves hockey, that sometimes can be a heavier burden than hoisting the Stanley Cup above your head.
Tears from fans, current players, and legends of the Chicago Blackhawks‘ history could have easily over flowed the Stanley Cup last night. From one of the greatest of all time, Bobby Hull, the last to win a Stanley Cup for the Blackhawks, watching from Chicago, to the last to feel the heavy burden of falling short of hoisting the Cup in 1992, long-time Blackhawk Jeremy Roenick, the emotions from players past proves the passion put in to Chicago Blackhawks history.
The Blackhawks didn’t win it easily, this year’s Cinderella story, the Philadelphia Flyers pushed the fairy tale story past midnight and into overtime. In the end, despite an incredible fight to bring them from one goal away from missing the playoffs, it wasn’t meant to be for the Flyers because this year the Stanley Cup was meant for the city of Chicago, the Blackhawks, and their fans.
As if Dorothy Gale herself were standing in the middle of the arena clicking her ruby red heels, the Chicago Blackhawks skated off the ice Sunday night with a 7-4 win, proving that there is indeed no place like home. After dropping the previous two games in Philadelphia, Chicago used the momentum provided by a raucous United Center Crowd to propel them to an offensive explosion.
Chicago lit the lamp early and often, racing out to a 3-0 lead in the first period. The first 12 minutes consisted of back and forth play between both teams, until defenseman Brent Seabrook put a Kris Versteeg pass in the back of the net to spark a scoring onslaught. Dave Bolland and Versteeg added goals in a 5:58 span to give Chicago a commanding lead. In response, Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette pulled goalie Michael Leighton to give his team a spark.
Early in the second period, it looked like the Flyers were on there way of turning the assumed blowout into a competitive game. Just 32 seconds into the period, left winger Scott Hartnell found paydirt from a Danny Briere feed to cut the deficit to 3-1. Momentum quickly shifted back to Chicago when right winger Patrick Kane canceled the goal out with a score of his own. This exchange in goals would be a pattern on the night, occuring 3 more times before the final buzzer sounded.
Even with the dominant offensive performance by Chiacgo, the series is far from over. The Flyers, who erased a 3-0 series deficit to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals, have proven to be an incredibly resilient team. On top of that, Chicago has yet to win in front of the hostile Wachovia Center crowd. Pieces of information that both teams are well aware of. “We just realize nothing is won yet,” said Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith. “We need one more win to do it.” When asked about game 6 and a possible goal switch, Coach Laviolette said, “One thing I’ve learned along the way about the playoffs is one game is only one game. There’s usually not a carryover effect from game to game.”
The Blackhawks will have an extended wait for their first crack at the Stanley Cup. Game 6 will take place on Wednesday night. If they are successful, it’ll be the first Stanley Cup for Chicago in 49 years.
images via Yahoo
The Chicago Blackhawks haven’t won a Stanley Cup title since 1961. No team in the NHL has a current streak longer than that. On the eve of their first game in the Stanley Cup Finals since 1992, the Blackhawks are preparing for their next feat, win just four more games to bring the coveted Stanley Cup home to Chicago.
The only team that stands in their way is the Philadelphia Flyers, a team that despite being an underdog, will probably offer the Blackhawks their toughest competition of the post season.
The Philadelphia Flyers have had their backs against the wall since even before the playoffs began. Edging their way into the playoffs, and then becoming only the second team in professional sports in the last half decade to come from a 3-0 deficit and win a playoff series.
With nearly every analyst in the hockey community saying that the Flyers can’t do it, Philadelphia, like they have all throughout this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, will put up a fight like no other.
Whether the Blackhawks will be able to beat the Flyers will depend on whether Philadelphia can snap their current power play drought, where they have been scoreless in their last 12 opportunities. Whether or not the Flyers snap out of their power play struggles, these two teams will be well rested and ready for game one on Saturday evening in the Windy City.
After the first period of play, it looked as if the San Jose Sharks had finally remembered how to play the way they had been the entire season. The Sharks were up 1-0, and just a few minutes into the second period, they had jumped to a two goal lead thanks to a goal from Patrick Marleau.
Ten minutes later the lead was erased by the Blackhawks who scored two more goals in the third period to finish off the sweep of the seemingly cursed San Jose Sharks. For the fifth straight season, despite consistently being one of the top teams in the regular season, the Sharks are eliminated without reaching the Stanley Cup Finals.
For the Chicago Blackhawks, they return to the Stanley Sup Finals for the first time since the 1991-1992 season when they were swept by the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Blackhawks last Stanley Cup Championship came all the way back in 1961. The 47 year drought is currently the longest running streak in the NHL.
The Blackhawks will face the winner of the Philadelphia Flyers versus Montreal Canadiens series. The Flyers currently lead the series 3-1 and will look to finish off the Canadiens in tonight’s game five in Philadelphia.
Goal keeping has set both the Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks apart from their opponents in this year’s Conference Finals of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
In the Eastern Conference Finals the Philadelphia Flyers goal keeper, Michael Leighton, continued his streak of perfection by shutting out the Montreal Canadiens. Leighton came up with 30 saves as the Flyers won 3-0. Leighton has not allowed a goal in over eight periods now and the back-to-back shutouts are the first for a Philadelphia goalie in twenty-five years, which is also the last time they won the Stanley Cup.
The victory gives the Flyers six straight wins, but now they have to head to Montreal on Thursday and battle the Canadiens, away from the Philadelphia fanatics for the first time in the series.
In the Western Conference, the Chicago Blackhawks took a second game in a row from the Sharks in San Jose behind the goal keeping of Antti Niemi.
Niemi made 25 saves in Tuesday night’s game, including an onslaught of shots from San Jose in the first ten minutes of the game, to lift the Blackhawks to a 2-0 lead in the best of seven series. Niemi denied every player on the Sharks, with the exception of Patrick Marleau, who scored two goals in the loss.
Chicago’s 4-2 victory brings them to within two wins of reaching the Stanley Cup Finals, somewhere they haven’t been since 1992.
For the Sharks and their fans, it seems the curse has still got the best of them. If the past is anything to consider then it is not looking good for the San Jose Sharks, as they have lost every playoff series that they have been down two games to none.
The Blackhawks will look to continue the sweep in Chicago on Friday night.