Spring is Hawkeytown Time
On Saturday, March 26, the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Calgary Flames, 4-1. In doing so, they secured their eighth straight trip to the Stanley Cup playoffs. In honor of the Blackhawks’ latest achievement, I thought it might be fun to share my opinion of the team’s top playoff moments in their storied history. Here is my take on why Springtime is Hawkeytown time:
On April 10, 1934, the Blackhawks win Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Detroit Red Wings. Harold “Mush” March scores the game winner for a 1-0 victory. This score resulted in the Blackhawks’ first ever Stanley Cup.
On April 23, 1982, goalie and eventual Hall of Famer Tony Esposito records his sixth career playoff shutout. This team record came against rival St. Louis in the division finals.
On April 24, 2010, in a game that I attended and will never forget, Patrick Kane scores a shorthanded goal against Nashville with 14 seconds left in regulation. After killing off the remainder of a major penalty, caused by Marian Hossa, to start overtime, Kane comes out of the box to bang in a rebound and win the game. Instead of being down 3-2 in the series, the Blackhawks take the lead in the series and eventually defeat Nashville in six games. Thus, a rivalry was born.
From April 12-21, 2012, Chicago and the then-Phoenix Coyotes opened their playoff series with five consecutive overtime games. The only other playoff series to start similarly was the 1951 Stanley Cup Final between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens. The Blackhawks scored game-tying goals with less than 15 seconds remaining in regulation in Games 1 and 2. This feat resulted in Chicago becoming the first team in NHL history to accomplish this in the postseason.
From May 25-27, 1995, Chris Chelios scores consecutive overtime game winners to sweep the Vancouver Canucks in the conference semifinal round. Both goals are still played on most highlight reels for the team.
On May 29, 2013, Brent Seabrook scores in overtime to beat the Detroit Red Wings in Game 7 of the conference semi-finals. His goal completes the team’s comeback from a 3-1 series deficit. This also marks the first time in franchise history that the Blackhawks rallied from being down 3-1 in a series to reach the next round of the playoffs.
On May 28, 2014, Michal Handzus scores the game winner at 2:04 into the second overtime in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final versus the Los Angeles Kings. Chicago’s 5-4 victory also includes Patrick Kane recording a playoff career-high four points (all assists).
On May 19, 2015, Marcus Kruger scores the triple-overtime winner at the 56:12 mark of sudden death play. This set the record for the longest game played in franchise history. Kruger’s goal against the Anaheim Ducks came after the infamous Andrew Shaw “head-butt” goal was disallowed. Goaltender Corey Crawford makes a career best 60 saves on 62 shots.
On June 9, 2010, Patrick Kane scores in Game 6 of overtime versus the Philadelphia Flyers, giving the Blackhawks their first Stanley Cup since 1961. Almost as memorable was the fact that only Kane seemed to know the puck had gone in the net. While he celebrated at the other end of the ice, the shot was reviewed to ensure the puck had indeed crossed the goal line. The whereabouts of the historic puck remain a mystery to this day.
On June 24, 2013, the Blackhawks get goals from Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland 17 seconds apart in the final 1:16 of Game 6 versus the Boston Bruins. The goals turned a 2-1 score for Boston into a 3-2 Blackhawks victory, allowing Chicago to capture its fifth Stanley Cup.
On June 15, 2015, the Blackhawks defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final and clinch their sixth Cup, and third in the last six years. Unlike 2010 and 2013 however, this clinching win comes on home ice, and is the first in United Center history.
Memories for a Lifetime
I remember exactly where I was for all but the March 1934 game. Hopefully these historic notes trigger happy memories in the minds of Blackhawks fans everywhere like they have for me. At the minimum, this helps me to appreciate all that Stanley Cup playoff hockey means, and it cannot ever be taken for granted (just ask Canadians this year). While the regular season is nice, Chicago really is an April-June hockey kind of town. I cannot wait to see what memories the 2016 playoffs bring.
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