NHL Week in Review (June 9-15)

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The Stanley Cup Finals would finally get underway as it seemed that this time may not even come before the season started. With a lockout to start the season the NHL was at risk of never seeing the Stanley Cup Finals this year. Thoughts of 2004-05 began to swirl with the players and owners locked in yet another battle over money while the fans suffered. In the end all would be solved as a new 10-year CBA was signed and the season was saved just in time. It would mean a shortened and unpredictable season though as only 48 games would stand between teams and the playoffs. After the shortened season and a great set of playoffs two teams survived and it would be two teams that looked good almost all season. The Chicago Blackhawks would take that 24 game point streak at the start of the season into the playoffs where they would meet some resistance but come out on top. Meanwhile the Bruins would look exhausted at the end of the season but after a tough series against Toronto would cruise the rest of the way. It would be the first Original Six matchup since 1979 and it would be two teams that many saw as a great matchup. It would be the skill of the Chicago Blackhawks against the size and toughness of the Boston Bruins. Could the Blackhawks outskate the Bruins and use their skill to get around the big bodies? Or could the Bruins goat the Blackhawks into playing a physical game much like they did against the Pittsburgh Penguins? The first game of the series would not truly answer any of these questions as a little bit of everything would be seen in the 5th longest game in Stanley Cup Finals history. The game started with the Chicago Blackhawks falling into the trap of the Penguins as they would try to outhit the Bruins. For their efforts they would go down quickly and struggle to get by Tuukka Rask. Then it would all change with a little bit of luck and an adjusted strategy as they would begin to use their skill and speed. Down 3-1 in the 3rd period the Blackhawks would come back and tie the game forcing overtime. Then came the craziness that makes the NHL playoffs so great. Through three overtime periods both teams had plenty of chances to score with open nets being missed consistently. The overtime periods were a mess of undisciplined but amazing hockey as both teams were too tired to play disciplined hockey. It was the start of what could be a great series as two great teams face off to claim this strange year as their own. It remains to be seen how this Stanley Cup will go down as the champion could be seen as a product of a short season. The short season could have been great for those team that already had their team in place. Other teams may have needed more time to gel or to figure out where they sat in the bigger picture. They could also be seen as a team that made it through the strange season that could have sunk any team. They could be the last team standing in year that could have easily sunk them without giving them the chance to get rolling. It will be an interesting series between two very good teams and whoever wins will stand above the rest in a season that was almost lost. Above all though these players have given everything they have once again to try to win one of the toughest trophies to win in sports. When the final whistle blows on this season the toothless smiles will be seen and the hidden injuries will come to light. Because whether they went through an 82 game season or a 48 game season the road to the Stanley Cup will never be easy and those who get their names etched in the silver trophy will give everything they have to be a champion.

 

Overtime:
(Thoughts on the past week in the NHL)

One Less Spot
The Coaching carousel saw its first hire this week then the Edmonton Oilers hired former Toronto Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins bringing in a coach who knows how to get the most out of young players in to a young team

Lack Luster Awards
The NHL Awards are usually a big deal around this time as the NHL holds a big Vegas show to reveal but with the changed schedule the awards would be handed out this week with travel plans revealing the winners before they were announced

Malkin Gets Paid
The Penguins continued to work this week as they would lock up one of their superstars in Evgeni Malkin to a 8-year $76 million leaving some big questions for the Penguins who will need to find out what to do with Kris Letang before his contract ends in 2014

Horton Risking it
Nathan Horton has not had the best luck in the playoffs as a concussion would keep him out of the playoffs when Boston won the Stanley Cup in 2010 and now a seemingly lingering shoulder injury sees him in danger of missing more games during the finals

 

Stanley Cup Final:

Chicago Blackhawks 1 – 1 Boston Bruins
Game 1: Chi 4 – 3 Bos (3OT)
Game 2: Bos 2 – 1 Chi (OT)
Game 3: Chi @ Bos (Monday June 17th; 8:00 pm ET)
Game 4: Chi @ Bos (Wednesday June 19th; 8:00 pm ET)
Game 5: Bos @ Chi (Saturday June 22nd; 8:00 pm ET)
Game 6: Chi @ Bos (Monday June 24th; 8:00 pm ET)
Game 7: Bos @ Chi (Wednesday June 26th; 8:00 pm ET)

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