The Chicago Blackhawks solidified their place as a dynasty for the 2010’s by downing the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games to win their third Stanley Cup since the 2009-10 season. They defeated the Bolts 2-0 at the United Center to win their first Cup at home since 1938.
The Hawks got the Cup-clinching goal off the stick of Duncan Keith at 17:13 of the second period (his third of the playoffs with assists to Patrick Kane and Brad Richards). Patrick Kane added an insurance goal at 14:46 of the third (his 11th, with Richards and Brandon Saad picking up the helpers). Corey Crawford made 25 saves for the shutout win. Keith was the unanimous decision by the media to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. According to NHL.com, Keith is the ninth defenseman to win the award (which includes the Rangers’ Brian Leetch and the Devils’ Scott Stevens).
Chicago and Tampa played six tight games with both teams playing well enough to win. But while Chicago’s big guns like Kane and Jonathan Toews came through, Tampa’s stars like Steven Stamkos (who did not score at all in the series) did not. That made all of the difference in a close, defensive series like this and was one of the main reasons why the Blackhawks came away with the big prize.
Although most of the Hawks have been together throughout this run of Cups, five players were picking up their first rings: Antoine Vermette and Andrew Desjardins were traded to the Blackhawks at the trade deadline by Arizona and San Jose respectively and Teuvo Teravainen and Middletown, New Jersey native Trevor van Riemsdyk are rookies. The fifth player to win his first Cup is 40-year old veteran Kimmo Timonen, acquired from the Flyers in a February trade. He missed most of the season with a blood clot in his lung according to NHL.com and announced he would be retiring at the end of this season. Timonen was a member of the Flyers the year they lost to the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final in 2010. He was the first player to be handed the Cup from Toews after the Hawks captain had received it from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
As the Blackhawks move on, one of the challenges for them will be keeping the team together as players become free agents and salary cap space becomes an issue (a problem modern NHL teams have to face, making it harder for dynasties to develop, which makes what Chicago has done here all the more impressive). For Tampa, this is not as much of an issue. Most of their young guys are locked up for a few years and the core is there for a Stanley Cup champion. Chicago acknowledged that the Lightning are a good team and will be sniffing around the Cup for years to come in their post-game interviews with NBC.
But for now, all of that is in the future. Congratulations to the Chicago Blackhawks on winning their sixth Stanley Cup in franchise history and their third in six years. For the Hawks, it truly is “Sweet Home Chicago.”