In a 10-part series, we look back at the 10-year anniversary of the 2008-09 season, the start of the Blackhawks dynasty.
Playoffs, check. Western Conference quarterfinals, check. Semifinals, check.
After missing the playoffs a year ago, the Blackhawks found themselves among the final four teams standing in 2009 but were about to face their largest test yet. And it wasn't just any test. It was against the hated Detroit Red Wings, who were also the defending Stanley Cup champions. David vs. Goliath.
Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews weren't even 21 yet and were going up against four future Hall of Famers in Pavel Datsyuk, Marian Hossa, Nicklas Lidstrom and Henrik Zetterberg who were in the primes of their career.
The Red Wings took care of home ice in Games 1 and 2, but the Blackhawks flexed their young muscles by securing Game 3 in overtime thanks to Patrick Sharp's game-winner. But it came at a cost.
Martin Havlat was the recipient of a controversial hit by Niklas Kronwall and was knocked out of the game with a head injury, though he was cleared to play two days later. The biggest gut punch came when starting goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin suffered a lower-body injury in the second period and would miss the rest of the series, with Cristobal Huet taking over from there.
Game 4 was a blowout, but turned out to be a valuable experience for Corey Crawford, who came on in relief and got his first taste of the postseason. He allowed one goal in seven shots in 15:55 of action.
And in Game 5, the Blackhawks took the Red Wings to the wire and forced overtime in large part because of a 44-save performance by Huet, but weren't able to overcome Detroit's veteran moxie.
In many ways, this was the most important learning lesson the Blackhawks could have had as a young group. It showed them what it took to win and reaffirmed that they weren't far off in their rise to championship contention.
While the road stopped in Detroit, it signaled the start of a new beginning in Blackhawks history. The start of a dynasty.
Relive the final part of our series in the video above.