NHL Hockey: Chicago Blackhawks Win Stanley Cup

NHL Hockey:  Chicago Blackhawks Win Stanley Cup&h=235&w=320&zc=1

The 2014-2015 NHL hockey season concluded on Monday night as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-0 to claim their third Stanley Cup in the past six seasons. While the criteria for being considered a ‘dynasty’ is highly arbitrary, this current crop of Blackhawks is making a compelling case for inclusion into this rarefied category. To provide a bit of context, the great Steve Yzerman led Detroit Red Wings teams won three Cups in six seasons–and they have been tabbed as a ‘dynasty’ on occasion. When you consider the depth and parity of the league circa 2015 the Blackhawks’ feat is all the more impressive. Ditto the fact that they came out of the toughest division in hockey (Central) in the rugged Western Conference.

The Blackhawks didn’t have it easy during the playoffs but they rose to the occasion. They needed six games to beat the Nashville Predators–a brutally talented team that would have been even tougher were it not for injuries to captain Shea Weber and others. They followed that up with a four game sweep of the hottest team in hockey, the Minnesota Wild who were expected to mount a challenge after vanquishing the favored St. Louis Blues. In the Western Conference Finals, they looked to be up against it facing the physical Anaheim Ducks–until the Blackhawks ‘figured them out’ and began to use their speed and skill to negate Anaheim’s size and strength.

The Tampa Bay Lightning put up a monumental effort in the finals–Game Six was the only game decided by more than a single goal. For that matter, it was the only game in which either team *ever* led by more than a single goal. Ultimately, it looked like the Blackhawks’ experience was the key with their battle tested superstars outplaying the Lightning’s talented youngsters. Steven Stamkos completely disappeared for the Bolts at various points during the playoffs, while the Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews played their best in the biggest games.

Chicago has some questions about player contracts and the long term future of the roster to deal with in the offseason but you can be sure the nucleus of the team–Toews and Kane–aren’t going anywhere.

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