Six reasons the Blackhawks beat the Lightning
Come down off cloud nine yet? Settling back into the day-to-day grind?
Well, let's hope not. The city of Chicago just witnessed a third Stanley Cup being hoisted by its seemingly invincible and supremely talented Blackhawks for the third time in six seasons, so it's perfectly OK to celebrate all week long.
The Cup made its way around Wrigley Field on Tuesday and will be shown off in front of millions during a parade scheduled to start Thursday at 10 a.m.
So party on, Jonathan. Party on, Patrick. And party on, Chicago.
Before we attempt to chronicle the Cup's every move, though, let's take a look back at a Stanley Cup Final that involved five 1-goal games and a 2-0 clincher that allowed 22,424 at the United Center to witness history Monday night.
How did the Hawks vanquish the Lightning in six games? Here's the six pack of reasons:
I sent out a tweet during Game 6 that the net must have looked a small as a dart board's bull's-eye to the Lightning. The credit goes perhaps to one of the most underrated and underappreciated goaltenders in the NHL -- Corey Crawford.
He allowed a measly 3 goals in the Hawks' 4 Final victories and just 10 overall for the series. His save percentage in the Final was .938 and an unreal .976 over the last three games.
"It was a total team effort starting from the goalie out," Duncan Keith said. "Crow was unbelievable."
2. Silent Stamkos
Steven Stamkos scored 43 goals in the regular season. That's better than 1 every two games.
In the playoffs, though, the 25-year-old star managed just 7 in 26 games and none over his last eight. He had his chances against the Hawks, especially in Game 6 when he hit the crossbar and had a breakaway attempt in which he failed to beat Crawford.
After it was over, Stamkos wondered what might have been.
"I feel like I didn't produce here," he said. "Who knows what could have happened if I get a few in this series. It's really hard to think of any positives right now."
3. The Fab Four
This is a repeat from the seven reasons the Hawks beat the Anaheim Ducks, but how can we not again point out that Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya were absolutely pivotal in this championship run?
These guys helped keep one of the most talented scoring teams in the league at bay for all but one of six games.
Hjalmarsson may have been the unsung hero in the Final, blocking 23 shots (3.8 per game) and always being in the right spot at the right time. He admitted on the United Center ice Monday that he was, in fact, tired.
"You just try to stay positive while you're in, try to find ways to get energy," Hjalmarsson said. "But it was a tough one. It was a tough run, But it's obviously worth every single drop of sweat when you reach the goal."
4. Tentative Tampa
Game 1 of the Final seems like a long time ago, but imagine if the Lightning had held, or extended, that 1-0 lead it nursed all night. Could have been an entirely different series.
But lesson learned to teams like that: When you have a chance to kill the Hawks, don't hesitate.
5. Secondary scoring
With Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp managing 1 goal each in the Final, the fact that the Hawks prevailed had a lot to do with other players coming through.
Antoine Vermette and Teuvo Teravainen's goals in Game 1 lifted the Hawks to a 2-1 victory. Vermette had another game-winner in Game 5, and Duncan Keith came through in Game 6.
Andrew Shaw and Brent Seabrook also scored in Game 2, a 4-3 Lightning victory.
6. In their heads
There were plenty of times when the Ducks and Lightning looked better than the Hawks early in the final two series. Chicagoans everywhere had serious doubts that a title could be achieved in those moments.
But then a funny thing happens. The Hawks plant a tiny seed of doubt in their opponents and it mushrooms into a nuclear cloud of We Are Totally Toast.
It happened to the Ducks as soon as coach Joel Quenneville put Toews and Kane together in Game 6, and right from the outset of Game 7 when the Hawks won the game's opening faceoff and immediately changed lines.
Anaheim had no idea how to respond.
As for Tampa Bay, the Lightning outplayed the Hawks through four games yet were tied at two apiece.
Then the Hawks came out in Game 5 like it was a Game 7 and dominated all night at Amalie Arena. Tampa Bay was turning it over and on its heels from the opening moments.
The Lightning had its chances in Game 6, but after a crossbar was hit and Crawford continued to make save after miraculous save, you could almost hear Stamkos and Co. thinking, "What do we need to do to score a goal?"
• So there you have it. The six pack is done and it's time again to line a parade route.
So once more, party on, Chicago.
"We talked about after we won our second one we said ultimately if you could ever win one here in Chicago that would be the ultimate Stanley Cup," said Hawks president and CEO John McDonough. "I think they're going to be celebrating in Chicago the entire summer."