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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Chicago Blackhawks: 2013 Stanley Cup Champions

17 seconds. Take a moment and think of everything you can accomplish in a mere 17 seconds; now imagine scoring two goals within in 17 seconds to lay claim to the Stanley Cup. That probably sounds like a dream that every young hockey player dreams at night, but for the Chicago Blackhawks that dream became a reality on Monday night. The Blackhawks beat the Boston Bruins 3-2 in game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals as they wrapped up their historic season with a Stanley Cup.

GET-171460497-620x413In an ending that couldn't have been written any better, the Blackhawks managed the unthinkable. Trailing 2-1 with just over a minute left in the third period it seemed that the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks were destined to square off in a game 7 for the ages. Cue Bryan Bickell; Bickell quickly buried the puck to notch the tying goal after a pass from the corner by Jonathan Toews left Tuukka Rask tangled with his defenceman. Then just 17 seconds later Dave Bolland gained inside position in front of Rask and tipped home a Johnny Oduya point shot which won the Chicago Blackhawks the Stanley Cup.

For Toronto Maple Leaf Fans there was a sense of vengeance seeing the Boston Bruins, who tore out their hearts with a last minute third period comeback fall to the same fate. Of course the two losses' were completely different; For the Leafs it was a complete collapse, for the Bruins it was a hard fought battle right to the end and just so happened the Stanley Cup was at stake. Either way you look at it, both the Leafs and Bruins fell short of claiming the greatest trophy in all of sports and the Blackhawks proved that sometimes a hot start isn't a bad thing.

An 82 game season is so long, that that the first 10 games really aren't a huge deal; throughout the season you see multiple versions of the same team, some good and some not so good. But when you chop that 82 game season in half, the start becomes that much more important. When the puck dropped on the 2013 NHL season the Blackhawks didn't waste anytime, going 23-0-3 in their first 24 games, breaking the record for the longest NHL point streak to start a season. That start helped the Blackhawks dominate the West and win the Presidents trophy.

Heading into the playoffs, the Blackhawks were one of the favorites to end the season by hoisting the Stanley Cup. They survived a scare in round 2 and knocked off the defending champs to earn a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals. Once in the Finals, the Blackhawks were set to square off against every teams nightmare; the Boston Bruins. If you're looking to see just how good the Bruins can be in the postseason just ask the Vancouver Canucks, Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple, all of whom are still trying to pick up the pieces from their crushing defeats at the hands of the Bruins. Needless to say, beating the Bruins- and Tuukka Rask was not going to be an easy task.

In an attempt to generate more offence Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were separated for the first three games in the Finals, but in game four the Blackhawks put the two back together and never looked back. In the next three games Toews and Kane along with Bryan Bickell combined for 6 goals and 7 assists to help the Bruins win the Cup.

Despite not having a goal in game 6, Patrick Kane won the Conn Smythe for his efforts in the playoffs. Kane entered the playoffs with a slump scoring just 2 goals in the Blackhawks first 15 games, but as the Blackhawks went further Kane lit up. He scored 4 goals in the final two games of the Western Finals, including a hat-trick that helped eliminate the Kings. Kane finished the Stanley Cup run with nine goals and 19 assists and joins his partner in crime Toews having both won Conn Smyth's.

chicago-blackhawks-stanley-cupFor the Blackhawks this season was one to remember. From a record breaking start, to a comeback series victory against the rival Red Wings, to their 2nd Stanley Cup in four years. Ironically the Blackhawks closed out both their Stanley Cup victories in game 6. The Blackhawks appear to have built themselves a modern day NHL dynasty, which could reign throughout the NHL for years to come.

The final buzzer has sounded and the 2013 NHL season has come to an end. Up next is a long and painful offseason for hockey fans, but at least next season will start on time. Hats off to the Chicago Blackhawks, the 2013 Stanley Cup Champions.

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