ONE GOAL!: The Kings are dead. Long live the Blackhawks!
The Bruins? Not so much. At least for the next week or two.
My Blackhawks are playing the Bruins this week in the Stanley Cup Finals- and this time, the Ursines are going down.
The Hawks ousted the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings from the playoffs Saturday night in double overtime by a score of 4-3. The Hawks won the series four games to one.
The puck will drop for the first game of the Finals at the United Center at 7:30 On Central on Wednesday..
As a special bonus, we won't have to listen to the NBC play-by-play announcer rooting for the Kings anymore.
The decisive Game Five shouldn't have gone to overtime. In the first place, when you're fewer than ten seconds away from the Stanley Cup Finals, you really should find a way to avoid allowing the tying goal. While Corey Crawford, the Jennings Trophy winner who by rights should, after the year he's had, also win the Vezina Trophy (but won't be considered) has had a phenomenal year, he does seem to have a propensity for giving up goals just as penalties or periods are about to expire.
After Patrick Kane put the Hawks ahead with what should have been the game winner with 3:52 left in regulation.Crow let a deflection by Mike Richards get by him with nine seconds left on the clock
It took an overtime period and a half for Kane to take a pass from Jonathan Toews on a two-on-one break and complete his hat trick, winning the Campbell Bowl, emblematic of the Western Conference championship, for the Warriors of the Four Feathers.
Following tradition, no Blackhawk touched the trophy at the presentation ceremony. This symbolizes the fact that it's the Stanley Cup, and not merely the Campbell Bowl, that they're after- and that they'll reserve their celebrating for the moment when they can hoist that trophy aloft.
Secondly, the Hawks let the Kings off the mat. This team gets it done when it has to. But it seems to relax when things are going well and not to play its best hockey. When the Hawks are playing their emotional, up-tempo, all-the-stops-out best, they are virtually unstoppable. But both the Detroit and the Los Angeles series featured lesser teams coming back on them when the Hawks seemed to presume upon their own skill, and if not exactly coast, at least not to play with the emotion they exhibit when the chips are down.
Now they'll be facing a Boston Bruins team which ousted the only team in the NHL which, at the level of skill, is in the same class as the Hawks- the Pittsburgh Penguins- in four straight. The Hawks would clearly have matched up better with the Pens than with the Bruins, since they could have played at the same level of skill as Pittsburgh while being physical enough to disrupt the Pens game in much the same manner as the Bruins did, although perhaps not to the same degree.
Still, if Boston thinks the Finals will be a replay of the Wales Conference series just completed, they're in for a rude surprise. The Hawks, it's true, are a team that depends on skill rather than size and physicality. But they have a great deal more size and physical toughness than the Pens do, even so.
The Bruins are the type of team that can theoretically beat a team as skilled as the Hawks, who- thinking back to the NHL of my youth- are essentially the Montreal Canadians of '71's to... well, Boston's 1971 Blackhawks, whom the Habs defeated in the Finals that year.
But as Hawk fans of a certain age remember all too well, it was the Flying Frenchmen who raised the Cup that year- although in one of the most exciting series and one of the greatest Game Sevens in Stanley Cup history.
My prediction is that history will repeat: Chicago in seven.