Blackhawks

Brent Sopel on 2010 Blackhawks mindset before, during and after Game 6

Brent Sopel on 2010 Blackhawks mindset before, during and after Game 6

Thursday at 7 p.m., you can rewatch the 2010 Blackhawks make history in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Philadelphia Flyers on NBC Sports Chicago.

2010 Stanley Cup champ Brent Sopel will help us set the scene.

With the opportunity to win the franchise's first Stanley Cup in 49 years after a 7-4 victory in Game 5 at the United Center and leading the series 3-2, the Hawks didn't want to get too high heading into Philly for Game 6.

Each game of the series had been won on home ice through Game 5.

"Our group was really good at staying focused," Sopel said over the phone on Tuesday. "We didn't look any further than the first period. Yes, everybody thought about the opportunity of winning and the family coming down and that kind of stuff, but everybody was focused on the task at hand to make sure we took care of that task before the fun began."

Game 6 started as a scoreless chess match until Dustin Byfuglien scored a power-play goal, his 11th marker of the 2010 postseason, late in the opening frame at 16:49.

"In playoffs, you don't want to ride a roller coaster. Obviously, we were happy with where we were, but no, we weren't any more excited. Just focused on the task shift by shift," Sopel said of the Hawks' mindset after Byfuglien's goal put the Blackhawks up 1-0. 

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Chicago was trailing 2-1 around the midway point of the second period when Patrick Sharp scored his 11th goal of the 2010 playoffs at 9:58 to tie it up 2-2.

Andrew Ladd made it 3-2 later in the second at 17:43. 

Scott Hartnell scored his second goal of the game to tie it for Philly at 16:01 of the third period. 

The teams would go to their locker rooms to prep for overtime.

"If you would have told us in September, 'You'll be in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final going into overtime,' we would have taken it," Sopel said. "Went in the dressing room, a couple things were said. We just stayed off that roller coaster and it was pretty even keeled the whole way. It just allowed us to get back out there and start overtime and go after it."

When Patrick Kane scored his "Goal of the Decade" 4:06 into OT for the 4-3 final score, the launching pad for the "Franchise of the Decade", Brent wanted to make sure it was for real before celebrating.

"I think I was the last one [off the bench]. I really slowly kind of climbed over the boards," Sopel said. "I almost walked on the ice because I knew this was going to be my one shot with being older and where my career was and everything that had been going on. 

"I knew this was my one opportunity, so I didn't want to get too excited, because I didn't see it go in, and have it be called back. So I wanted to be overly sure. Then I saw the coaches' reaction and then it was obviously Showtime." 

At first, the unusual way the goal was scored left Brent skeptical.

"I saw the play, but it was on the ice, not a lot of room, and you never see a puck go in that way and not come out, and that was it," Sopel said. "Everybody plays off the reaction of the mesh or of the puck going back out, and the fact that the goal light didn't go on and there was no puck coming back out, it was kind of a mystery. And that's why I didn't want to get too excited because I was like, 'Where the hell did it go?' The way Leighton was hugged up against the post, it very easily could have been in his pads."

It wasn't caught in Leighton's pads. It was for real. An epic celebration ensued, lasting until the next season’s home opener and banner ceremony.

For Sopel, what the team was able to achieve and how the city of Chicago responded were the best parts of the 2010 Stanley Cup championship. 

"That was the tightest knit group that I've ever been a part of," said Sopel, who played for six NHL teams in 12 seasons. "So the feeling of accomplishment for that group, but just the city. It comes full circle. I played my first NHL game here in Chicago (for the Vancouver Canucks on April 5, 1999). 

"To come back and see... look at the parade, two, three million people, the looks on people's faces, the excitement on people's faces was priceless… The whole city came together on a level I didn't know was possible."

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Blackhawks' Patrick Kane found his postseason game, but is it too late?

Blackhawks' Patrick Kane found his postseason game, but is it too late?

Six games into the Blackhawks' 2020 postseason Patrick Kane finally produced near the level we're accustomed to.

Through his first five postseason games at Edmonton, Kane only had four points (one goal, three assists), with zero points and a +/- rating of -2 against Vegas in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs first round series.

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Game 2 against the Golden Knights on Thursday featured a bounce-back performance from Kane, as well as Corey Crawford, and a much better effort from the Hawks across the board, but it wasn't enough to even up the series. Instead, they lost 4-3 in overtime to trail in the series 2-0.

The good news is that Kane is looking like himself, picking up three assists in the second period of Game 2 and helping the Hawks exit the second frame tied 3-3.

First, Kane assisted on Blackhawks rookie forward Kirby Dach's first NHL playoff goal, passing the puck to Calvin de Haan, who fed Dach to cut the Golden Knights' lead to 2-1 at 3:17 of the second period.

Then, Showtime picked up the primary helper on Dominik Kubalik's power-play goal that tied it 2-2, for the rookie's fourth goal in six postseason contests.

Late in the second, trailing 3-2, Alex DeBrincat passed it to Kane, who fed Dylan Strome in front of the crease to tie it 3-3 with 14 seconds remaining in the period for Strome's second postseason goal.

With Kane's third assist in the game, he passed Bobby Hull (129) for third in most playoff points in Hawks history with 130. Denis Savard is in second with 145 and Stan Mikita is No. 1 with 150.

"Well, I've been fortunate to play on some amazing teams. And I guess when you have some deep runs in the playoffs, you're going to have the chance to put up numbers and points when you're an offensive guy," Kane said following Thursday's loss. "So I appreciate those teams I've been on, trying to do the same thing here with this team."

The bad news for this Blackhawks team is that they're trailing seemingly one of, if not the best, teams in the playoffs 2-0. The good news is Kane has begun to find his game again and that three assists still doesn't cut it for his potential.

He almost had a goal in the first period on a Hawks' power play but hit the post after beating Robin Lehner five-hole.

If Chicago is able to put together a better effort and play their game closer to the full 60 minutes (pending overtime), Kane may be able to ride some momentum and put them over the top to make the series interesting in Game 3. He's been known to deliver on big stages in key moments.

"I think we got a good group," Kane said. "I think we proved it all year when we played in tough situations, faced some adversity that we were able to come back, we're able to work our way out of it. This isn't a team that's going to give up and I think we're in a situation here where we're coming into a day off then a back-to-back situation and we feel we got a young team with some fresh legs, so hopefully that can be used to our advantage."

Blackhawks must 'regroup fast' after falling behind 2-0 against Golden Knights

Blackhawks must 'regroup fast' after falling behind 2-0 against Golden Knights

The Vegas Golden Knights are the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference for a reason. They are one of the best offensive and defensive teams in the league, and the Blackhawks are seeing it first-hand in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

In a 4-1 loss in Game 1 on Tuesday, the Blackhawks were reminded that the Golden Knights can tighten up defensively as good as anyone. In Game 2 on Thursday, the Golden Knights reminded the Blackhawks why they were the NHL’s best puck possession team during the regular season and showed how dangerous they can be when they dictate the pace of play.

The Blackhawks went toe-to-toe with the Golden Knights for two periods, but the Golden Knights imposed their will in the third period and overtime and eventually cashed in at the 7:13 mark to take a 2-0 series lead.

"I thought we were playing really well the first two periods," said Patrick Kane, who had three assists in Thursday's 4-3 loss. "And for whatever reason it just seemed that they came out better than us in the third. I don’t know if we thought it was going to be a little bit easier than it was, especially after we tied it up. But they’re a good team, they’re going to fight back, and they carried the play for most of the third."

The Blackhawks made significant lineup changes going into Game 2, looking for a spark after struggling to break through Vegas’ tight-checking style in Game 1. Adam Boqvist, most notably, was a healthy scratch in favor of Lucas Carlsson, who logged only 10:33 of ice time and had a plus-2 rating.

The Blackhawks also changed up the look of three of their four lines and, for the most part, it worked. But the Golden Knights were too much to handle, even without their leading scorer Max Pacioretty, who was ruled "unfit to play."

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From the third period on, the Golden Knights led in shot attempts (36-16), shots on goal (23-7), scoring chances (21-8) and high-danger chances (7-3), according to Natural Stat Trick. It was a dominant effort, and only a matter of time before they broke through.

"They're a really good third-period team and they had a hard push," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "I would've liked to see us handle it a little better. ... Disappointing, because I thought the guys played hard. But at the same time, we need to keep getting better, keep improving. We're not out of it. We're going to regroup and come back raring to go for Game 3."

Credit the Blackhawks for rallying from a two-goal deficit to even the score at 3-3 by the end of the second period. They showed, yet again, that they won't go down without a fight and are never out of a game.

But they've given up the first goal in five of six postseason games now and have yet to play with a lead in 127:13 minutes against the Golden Knights. That needs to change if the Blackhawks want to get back into this series, which is going to be difficult considering teams that go up 2-0 in a series go on to win 87.2 percent of the time.

It's a crucial weekend for the Blackhawks, who have a day off on Friday before playing back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday.

"Once we find our groove, we’ll be alright as a group," Kirby Dach said. "It’s tough to swallow this one right now. We had chances in overtime to put the game away. That’s not the way it went, so we’ve got to regroup fast here because these next two games are coming up quick."