I, like many international hockey enthusiasts was plugged in and listening to the Chicago Blackhawks win a well deserved Stanley Cup. On paper, the Blackhawks are a great team. On the ice, they were unstoppable.
The result of the Stanley Cup finals was hardly a foregone conclusion when the two teams were decided. Philadelphia were worthy opponents. The way they dismissed the New Jersey Devils in the first round was an emphatic statement. Coming back from a 3-0 deficit against Boston was sublime brilliance.
In the west, Chicago were making waves of their own. In none of the series the Blackhawks played did they ever look troubled. Their stiffest test was sure to come in the West Finals against San Jose. Four straight wins later Chicago were becoming the red hot favourites.
Philadelphia were a tough test and no one can deny they were well-coached and passionate about their quest. Stars like Daniel Briere came to the fore and had sensational series. Ville Leno was perhaps their most effective player (not bad for a rookie). Ultimately, Philly couldn’t match it in net. While Niemi was solid in net for Chicago, Leighton was inconsistent and shaky. As Niemi made the big save, Leighton let an easy on slip through. Still, Leighton was greatat times, as the latter part of the series against Boston proved.
I suspect the Blackhawk’s young stars are committed to hoisting the silverware this time next year. They have the talent no doubt. Backing up is a tough thing to do; just ask Pittsburgh.