With two goals in 17 seconds, the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup for the second time in four years.
It wasn’t pretty for either team in Game Six, and the reports on injuries players were dealing with at the end of the series are starting to come out in the wake of the Hawks unbelievable win.
For Boston, Patrice Bergeron played Game Six with a separated shoulder, torn cartilage and a broken rib. For Chicago, Andrew Shaw played the second and third periods of the game with blood running down his cheek after taking a puck to the face.
But after the final horn sounded and the handshakes had taken place, Gary Bettman handed the Stanley Cup to Jonathan Toews.
The Bruins came out and dominated the first period, hammering the Hawks and controlling the flow of the game. After 20 minutes, Boston had directed 32 shots at Corey Crawford but only one beat Chicago’s netminder.
Crawford didn’t win the Conn Smythe; Patrick Kane was awarded the postseason Most Valuable Player honor. But Crawford shut up his critics with an incredible postseason run that included 16 victories, a 1.84 goals against average and .932 save percentage. In the Cup-clinching game, Crawford stopped 23 of 25 to earn the victory.
Jonathan Toews, among others from the Hawks, admitted after the game that his bell had been rung in Game Five. But he returned with a performance that reminded everyone that he is one of the best players in the game. Toews scored the Hawks’ first goal, only moments after killing a penalty, and won 12 of 20 faceoffs. Chicago’s captain was also credited with an assist on Bryan Bickell’s game-tying goal, three hits, two blocked shots and one takeaway.
Duncan Keith led the Hawks, skating 28:51 in the game with two takeaways and one blocked shot. He played another strong game, looking once again like the player that won the Norris Trophy in 2010. Keith’s partner on the blue line, Brent Seabrook, blocked six shots and was credited with four hits in the clincher.
Patrick Sharp was credited with a team-high six shots on net and also had four hits. Kane had great jump throughout the game, putting three shots on net and starting the rush that led to Bickell’s goal.
But while the stars for the Hawks showed up big in the biggest game, it was their role players that once again led the team to victory.
Bickell’s goal came at 18:44 in the third, more than six minutes after Milan Lucic gave Boston a 2-1 lead. It was Bickell’s ninth goal of the postseason, and came with Crawford on the bench; Chicago had pulled their goaltender for an extra attacker and was able to capitalize. Bickell also had two hits in the game, and will be an unrestricted free agent next Friday.
The Hawks got another stellar game on the fourth line of Dave Bolland, Michael Frolik and Marcus Kruger. Coach Joel Quenneville had enough confidence in the line to put them on the ice after Bickell tied the game and Bolland rewarded that faith with the Cup-clinching tally. Bolland’s goal was the latest clinching goal in regulation in Cup history. Frolik had an assist on Bolland’s goal and four blocked shots.
General Manager Stan Bowman made only one minor move at the trade deadline, trading San Jose’s fourth round pick back to the Sharks for “washed up” Michal Handzus. But Handzus finished the posteason as the Hawks’ second line center, and played a major role in the Cup coming back to Chicago. Reports after the game indicated that Handzus was playing with a broken wrist and torn MCL in Game Six.
In these playoffs, 14 different Blackhawks scored a goal. Bolland became the tenth different Chicago skater to be credited with a game-winning goal in the postseason. Ultimately, it was the depth of the roster that Bowman put together that paid the ultimate dividend.
As Boston head coach Claude Julien said after the game, it was unfortunate that there needed to be a loser in the series. The Blackhawks only outscored the Bruins by two goals in the six games, and the two Original Six franchises played three overtime games including the epic triple overtime Game One.
The Blackhawks next game that counts will be at the United Center in October. There will be a banner raised before the puck drops.