The Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in a 2-0 shutout of the Tampa Bay Lightning with goals from Duncan Keith and Patrick Kane.
By Patrick Comia
All good things must come to an end, and that end came last night in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final.
In another fun-filled 60 minutes which included scoring opportunities, dramatic saves, and tight checking defense, the Chicago Blackhawks emerged as 2015 Stanley Cup Champions.
After 77 years, the team was able to win the championship in front of their home crowd, which may have made that winning feeling that much sweeter.
However, the win had to be earned against a Tampa Bay Lightning squad that was used to being in elimination situations. In these playoffs, the Lightning were 3-0 these playoffs fending off the likes of the Detroit Red Wings (down 3-2 in the first round) and the New York Rangers (series tied 3-3). Another Lightning stat to boot was their 8-4 record on the road these playoffs.
The team from Florida had plenty of experiences to draw upon, which fueled their confidence heading into last night.
But the Blackhawks had plenty of experience of their own, to draw upon. They’ve won it before, under the guidance of head coach Joel Quenneville. After his reign in the St. Louis Blues organization and unable to push that team over the hump, he found the promise land in Chicago. With him behind the bench, the Blackhawks were 9-0 when leading a best-of seven series 3-2.
But, all the stats don’t mean a thing, once the puck drops.
Throughout the game, chances on both sides were there for the picking. Lightning superstar Steven Stamkos, who had been quiet these playoffs, made his presence known. In the first period, he had the first scoring chance. Despite his team being outshot 13-4, Stamkos could have given the Lightning the early lead. He blitzed a slap shot over Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford’s shoulder, but it found the crossbar and bounced off the net away from danger.
To their credit, the Lightning weren’t giving an inch, if they could help it. Unlike the previous five games of the series, the Lightning looked more in control of their passing and puck control. Their defense, especially their penalty kill unit stifled the Blackhawks man-advantage, causing them to go 0/2. It was a combination of Chicago’s poor passing and weak puck control, giving up dribblers which caused the Lightning to possess the puck for long stretches when they were a man down. They were able to get in the shooting lanes and stump scoring opportunities for Chicago.
Another opportunity for the Lightning to take the lead came early in the second period. After a giveaway by the Blackhawks in the offensive zone, Lightning forward Cedric Paquette air-mailed a puck ahead of a streaking Stamkos. He gathered the puck and tried to deke Crawford. However, the Blackhawks goalie was able to stuff the opportunity with his left pad, denying a golden opportunity.
After back and forth action between the two teams, the Blackhawks Duncan Keith broke the scoreless game with 2:47 left. The Conn Smythe winner for these playoffs, Keith was the trailing offensive player intot he zone. He received a pass from Patrick Kane, who finished the game with two points (one goal, one assist), who waited at the blue line for support. The play was not possible, if it were not for the veteran Brad Richards stealing puck away from the Lightning in the neutral zone.
Keith drove in past the Lightning defense and shot the puck at Ben Bishop. After making the first stop, he gave up a rebound and Keith followed up his first shot with the loose puck.
Bishop, who made 23 of 25 saves, looked in some discomfort the whole night. It was revealed later that he was dealing with a torn groin.
New Puck Daddy: Tampa’s Ben Bishop played Cup Final with torn groin http://t.co/nZ8aHMZtL8
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) June 16, 2015
As the third period started, the Blackhawks looked to play prevent defense, seeing the Lightning lots of time in their defensive zone. But, that wouldn’t last long. With 5:14 left in the third, the combination of Kane and Richards gave the Blackhawks a 2-0 lead. After a turnover by the Lightning, Brandon Saad took the puck down to the other end. He dropped the puck to Richards, who was trailing behind. As he skated towards Bishop, he had Kane to his right. He had two options: shoot it or pass it. Richards elected to pass, faking out the Lightning defense by not turning his head at any time. He passed the puck across the ice and Kane one-timed a shot into a wide open net.
The Lightning could not recover and the Blackhawks shutout the Lightning. With the 2-0 win, Corey Crawford tied Tony Esposito in playoff wins by a Blackhawks goalie with 45. His 25-save shutout gave him two these playoffs, while going 13-6-1.
Keith won the Conn Smythe scoring 21 points (three goals, 18 assists), with a +16 goal rating, and averaging 31:00 minutes per game these playoffs. Truly a deserving player and a key component for the Blackhawks blue line.
After a delay with the Stanley Cup presentation ceremony due to traffic, captain Jonathan Toews finally hoisted the Cup, deferring to veteran Kimmo Timmonen to skate with the Cup for the first time in his career. He said he was calling it a career and left the game with his one dream come true. It brings back memories of Ray Bourque finally capturing his one Cup with the Colorado Avalanche.
— NHL (@NHL) June 16, 2015
The Cup found its way into the hands of Brad Richards, who raised it for the second time in his career, the first with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004. This time last year, he was playing for the Cup with the New York Rangers, but lost to the Los Angeles Kings in five games. Vindication for the veteran, who played key roles in the two goals last night.
Ladies and gentlemen, your 2014-2015 Stanley Cup Champions Chicago Blackhawks.