Well, the Blackhawks did it.
The sour taste they had in their mouth following last year’s Western Conference Final carried over to training camp, when the Blackhawks realized how long the road was going to be to get back to even that point. But they took that road, dealt with the ups and downs of it along the way and, once again, hoisted the Stanley Cup at the end of that arduous trek.
The Blackhawks won their third Cup in the past six seasons when they ousted the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-0 on Monday night. Duncan Keith earned the Conn Smythe Trophy. Corey Crawford earned a shutout and – maybe – a little more respect league wide.
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But we know you’re all reveling in the Cup victory so we’ll get to the point. Here to cap Game No. 105, are the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ Cup triumph.
1. Keith takes home his own hardware. What a postseason for the defenseman, who logged a ton of minutes – more than 700 – and just got better with every passing moment. It was only fitting that Keith scored what proved to be the game-winning goal. His play cannot be heralded enough. Said Quenneville of Keith, “great selection, great guy, based on a lot of reasons. He defends as well as he does and he still creates a lot of offense for us against top players.”
2. Kimmo Timonen gets his Cup moment. You could see the joy and relief on Timonen’s face as he lifted the Cup above his head. The defenseman said he was retiring at the end of this season no matter what, but a Cup victory would be the perfect ending. Well, Timonen, who overcame blood-clot problems during the offseason, got his perfect ending. “Doctors have their own opinion and they were probably right,” Timonen said of his health issues that almost cost him this season completely “But my desire was so deep. If there was any chance I could make a comeback I [wanted] to do it.”
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3. Corey Crawford finishes with a bang and a blanking. Crawford wanted to forget his first round, which was rough. No better way to erase the start than to come through in the end, and Crawford was great when the Blackhawks needed him to be again. Crawford stopped all 25 shots he faced on Monday. In his last three games – all victories – Crawford held the Lightning, the highest scoring team in the regular season, to just two goals. Said Brandon Saad, “We know who he is. He gets bad press or whatever it is, they can say whatever they want, as a group in there we know what he does. He can steal games for us. He's a big time player. He anchors our team and we love him.”
4. Patrick Kane comes through again. Kane, much like Tampa Bay forward Steven Stamkos, was asked a lot about not scoring throughout this Stanley Cup Final. But when the Blackhawks needed an exclamation-point goal in Game 6, guess who provided it? Kane gave the Blackhawks that insurance goal they needed en route to this third Cup. “I felt so good and I knew I had to step up,” Kane said. “So many guys on our team had already done that during the series so I knew I had to do something. It was great to come in and produce.”
5. Three Cups in six seasons means… Some will call it a dynasty. Some won’t want to use that word because the Blackhawks didn’t win them in successive seasons like the NHL’s past dynasties. But in the salary-cap world, we’re using the D word. The Blackhawks just find ways of getting to this point, or close to it, despite the money restrictions and the departure of players. They’ll have to go through it again this offseason. Maybe they don’t get to this point again next season, when they’ll have a lot of youth joining them. But don’t doubt they’ll be back soon.