I hope you didn’t blink. Milan Lucic had just scored at the 12:11 mark of the third period, a goal which seemed to be the backbreaker that would be sending us to a Game 7. I hope you didn’t blink. With under two minutes left, Jonathan Toews made an incredible pass to Bryan Bickell to tie the game. Suddenly hope was restored. We would make it to overtime for the 4th time this series, where the Blackhawks had already won two of the previous three overtime games. I hope you didn’t blink. 17 seconds later, Dave Bolland made history in what had already been an historic season for the Blackhawks. They were less than a minute away from their second cup in four years. In 17 seconds, they went from heartbreaking loss, to Stanley Cup glory. I really hope you didn’t blink.
It was an historic season for the Chicago Blackhawks, coming off two disappointing first round playoff exits in a row. They started and finished their season in record-breaking fashion. They began by starting the strike-shortened season by going 24 consecutive games without a regulation loss, and ended the season with the record for the shortest span between game-tying and Stanley Cup-clinching goals, as well as the latest cup-clinching goal in regulation. And to make it even sweeter, which team had previously held both of those playoff records? The Boston Bruins.
And how appropriate that the game-winning goal was made by Dave Bolland, only his 3rd of the playoffs. All year the Blackhawks were defined by their depth. All four lines were a threat to score. Corey Crawford answered all of his critics who questioned whether or not he could be an every day goaltender, and now he’s a Stanley Cup Champion. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, who both went through their share of slumps in the playoffs, came up big in the final two games. And to think, only a month ago, this was the same team that was down 3-1 to the Red Wings and on the brink of elimination. But from that point, the Blackhawks went on to win 11 of their final 14 playoff games.
It was an incredible end to an incredible season. And for all of us Chicago sports fans, really soak this one in. The Cubs and White Sox are both in the middle of miserable seasons and long-term rebuilds. The Bulls are still awaiting the return of their star, all while still figuring out how to surround him with the right guys to make them true contenders. The Bears are about to enter a new coaching regime with their 4th offensive coordinator in the Jay Cutler era and an aging defense playing for the first time in this decade without Brian Urlacher. Since the Bulls’ last title in 1998, Chicago’s major sports teams have only been world champions three times, two of them by the Blackhawks. So lets celebrate this one all summer long. The Stanley Cup is back in Chicago.