How does a team who started out with a shaky goaltender and play down the stretch with a four man rotation on the blue line end up winning the Stanley Cup? I still don’t know the answer to that question.
The Chicago Blackhawks ended up winning their third Cup in six years against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Corey Crawford was perfect in net when Chicago needed him to be. There was no more doubt in who would be the Blackhawks goalie after they swept the Minnesota Wild in the semifinals. We thought a four to five man rotation on defense would destroy Chicago, but they proved us wrong against the Anaheim Ducks who had a three games to two lead in that series only to see it disappear.
As with the Los Angeles Kings the last few seasons the ‘dynasty’ word is being thrown around with Chicago. Both teams have most of their core locked up for many years, but in the salary cap era both teams will end up being in ‘cap hell’ sooner rather than later.
For now Chicago has Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane at the forefront for the prime of their careers. Conn Smythe winner Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook shore up the defense and will do so for their primes as well. The question will be if Chicago decides to hang on to Corey Crawford or give backup Scott Darling a long look to be the possible replacement if Crawford should struggle again. The irony is that Crawford replaced Antti Niemi after the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup after the 2010 season.
Parody is always good for any sport. Many teams had opportunities this season and in the playoffs to jump ahead of the pack. Chicago made the most of their opportunities and they ended up hoisting the Cup. What comes next for Chicago is that they shouldn’t be counted out for quite some time. They are built to win long term and will certainly make some adjustments to their depth. A catastrophic injury would have doomed the Blackhawks and their fortunate it didn’t happen.
Congratulations to the 2015 Stanley Cup champions. Not many teams have had this kind of success and others are trying to replicate this formula.