Here we are then.

This crazed head-rush of a season has finally brought us to the very threshold of the Promised Land. The Chicago Blackhawks are 60 minutes away from fulfilling all the promise and wiping away the pains of the last three years.

 

I’m not going to get all hubristic here, but I’m actually looking forward to Monday, rather than dreading it. My reasoning? The Blackhawks have remembered that they are the best team in the NHL.  Simple as that.  Don’t get me wrong, the Bruins are one hell of a Hockey team, and this series ain’t over yet. I still expect them to be in Chicago for a Game 7. But, looking objectively at last night’s performance, were Boston ever really in that game? It never felt close, not even after Chara’s goal reduced the lead to the bare minimum. I always felt that the Hawks had at least another gear, maybe two, that they could go through if they needed to. Boston looked out of ideas.

This was, without a doubt, one of the most defensively solid performances I’ve seen from the Hawks. They kept the Bruins to the outside and speculative shots from range.  Crawford didn’t need to have a bounce-back game, but pulled off the saves when he needed to (including a couple of sweet glove-side efforts.. how’s that for #Narrative?) That they did this without Jonathan Toews for nearly half the game is incredible. Make no mistake, this Hawks team is functioning at an elite level, right now.  All the elements are there and they are working (ok, except the PP) A repeat of this on Monday and Boston fans get the chance to boo Bettman. It’s as easy as that. One game…

Talking points:

  • Those injuries: word this AM is that Bergeron may have some issue related to his spleen.  It certainly seemed that it was something other than a Hockey-incident that led to his leaving the game and being transported to a local hospital.  Hopefully it’s nothing major. Bergeron is a fantastic Hockey player and I hope he isn’t done for what’s left of this series.  As for Toews.. Johnny Boychuk should be getting a suspension for that one. He won’t, of course. No word out of Chicago as yet (other than “Upper Body Injury”, which tells us exactly nothing) but one fears for Toews’ considering his history of concussions.
  • If Toews is out, it’s a serious blow. All those people who’ve been shooting their mouths off about his lack of production, points-wise, are suddenly remembering all the other things that the Captain does better than, well, everybody. I won’t get into the line-swapping and suchlike that will occur if he’s out for Game 6. We’ll have plenty of time for that.
  • In more positive news, the Two Paddies  (note: NEVER “Patty” WTF is with that?) were drooling werewolves out there. Sharp could have had a hat-trick, only being denied by some stellar work from Rask. He’s playing like a true leader of this team.  Patrick Kane had two and came close to having headgear raining on to the UC again.  His reaction time is.. well, it’s staggering. Go back and watch those goals again. Yes, the Hawks got a break (literally) when Oduya’s shot smashed Seidenberg’s stick and wrong footed Rask.. but look at the speed with which Kane asseses this, picks his reaction and angle, and executes. It’s a split-second. Ditto for his second goal. That kid has some serious hot-wire running from brain to hands.
  • Bryan Bickell continues to pile on the $$$ that he will earn this summer. He didn’t score, but he was a beast in and around the Bruins net, including, hilariously, putting Zdeno Chara on his ass. Nice work.
  • One of the most cheering things about this game, and reflective of the disciplined defense being played by the Hawks, was the pinning of the Bruins in their own zone, right at the death, thereby keeping Rask in his net. We saw this against LA, too.  When they finally did get him out of there, the Hawks got away with a trip (and I haven’t seen much screaming from Boston fans about it: I think they realise that that was the last of an awful lot of penalties that went uncalled last night) and David Bolland channelled his Inner-Hossa to wrap it all up.
  • Finally, this GIF of Lucic, after the ENG,will keep me warm on cold winter nights for years to come

http://i.imgur.com/MqZJOIr.gif

 

This is  my last wrap of the Season.. people with actual Hockey brains will be handling the denouement.

It’s been a whole ton of fun doing these, even when sleep-deprivation is kicking me in the head.  Thanks for reading and not calling me too many names.

Oh, and one more thing: