Blackhawks parade perfect ending to perfect series
Another parade has come and gone.
Getting to be old hat around these parts, right?
Not so much.
The Blackhawks threw a spectacular party Friday in Chicago, a party that could have just as easily taken place in Boston for the Bruins.
That's how close the Stanley Cup Final was, and how different it could have been.
Yes, the Hawks deserved to win. They earned every goal and every victory, and many of them paid a heavy physical and emotional price, but they are well aware of how it could have ended with the Bruins as champs.
Had they not scored 17 seconds apart very late in Game 6, there would have been a Game 7 -- and then it's coin flip.
"Didn't see that one coming," Joel Quenneville said Thursday. "Who knows what would have happened (Wednesday) night?"
It's a good question. In Game 7, a post, a blown tire, a deflected shot and it could have been the Bruins dancing with Lord Stanley's Bowl.
"It really was that close," said Patrick Sharp. "It was as close a series as you could play. You have to tip your cap to the Bruins. I'm sure they thought they had as much right to the trophy as us. But only one team gets it.''
The Hawks won Game 1, but only after scoring twice in 4 minutes midway through the third to tie it, and the teams played three extra periods before a double deflection earned the home team a victory.
Game 2 was won by the Bruins in the fourth period, and by then the teams had played 10 periods of hockey to reach a 1-1 series tie.
The Bruins carried the better of the play in Game 3, as they had for much of the first two games, and still it was only a 2-0 win for Boston, where any shot in the third period could have changed the match entirely and swung momentum in the Hawks' favor.
Then came the wildest game of the series, and yet another overtime contest. Brent Seabrook gave the Hawks a 6-5 victory and life when, again, a Boston goal instead of a post here or a Corey Crawford save there, and the series would have been over.
The 75:47 of bonus time was the second most in Stanley Cup Final history, only 3 minutes behind the 1931 Final between the Hawks and Habs, and the added time made it more than a seven-game series, which it was destined to be from the start.
"That series and the pace that we just saw for six straight games was amazing," Quenneville said. "Commend both teams for leaving it out there."
Game 5 was a one-goal game until Dave Bolland's empty-netter with 14 seconds remaining, and Game 6, well, you know the ending to that one, and yet another one-goal difference after Bolland got the game-winner.
Excluding the empty-netter, the Hawks scored one more goal than Boston in six games, a fitting reminder of how unbelievably close every game was, and how a bounce here or there might have meant a Boston parade instead.
"Our guys were close to (Bolland), but, you know he just outmuscled them on that,'' said Boston coach Claude Julien. "That's what I mean. Sometimes they go your way and sometimes they don't. We've lived through both of them, so we know how it feels on both sides of it, winning and being the losers."
But in the end, the Hawks just had a little bit more heart, a little bit more health and a little bit more talent.
"You look at who you played against, and that Chicago team I think lost seven games in the regular season, and you can see why," Julien said. "They're deep. They got stronger as the series went on, and they're a great hockey club. They need to be congratulated on that.
"But at the same time, I'm going to stand here and tell you how proud I am of our team, how those guys battled right until the end. This is a good group of guys, and it's unfortunate that it takes a loser in these kinds of situations, but it doesn't take away the fact that you can be proud of them."
The Bruins and Hawks should both be proud. They gave hockey fans as good a show as the NHL could have imagined, and it might have been the best Stanley Cup Final ever played.
It might have been the best hockey series ever played.
It's just a whole lot easier to discuss the historical nature of it when it's your team that won the big prize.
It's a whole lot easier to smile about the brilliance of it all when it's your team that had the party.
Sadly, only one team could win -- and only one team had a parade Friday.
And to a man, the Blackhawks know how close it was to being the other way around.
•Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM, and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.