MORRISSEY: High drama as Blackhawks return to Cup Final
BY RICK MORRISSEY firstname.lastname@example.org June 9, 2013 12:40AM
Kings center Mike Richards scores the tying goal on a deflection against Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford with 9.4 seconds left in regulation Saturday night. | Charles Rex Arbogast~AP
at Hawks 2
at Hawks 4
at Kings 3
at Kings 2
at Hawks (2 OT) 4
Updated: July 10, 2013 7:01AM
Ifear for the city’s mental health, for its work productivity,for its marital wellness. Mostly I fear for its liver.
I worry that pets will go unfed and grass un-mowed as Chicago walks around in a beautiful, restless Stanley Cup Final fog.
Can the greater metropolitan area take another couple of weeks of this Blackhawks-induced stress? If the first three playoff rounds have left the city this euphoric, this uptight and this exhausted, what will the town look like after the Hawks are done battling the Boston Bruins in the Final?
Something like an ice rink in the last stages of a spring thaw.
A puddle of nerves.
The Hawks beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-3 in double overtime in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals Saturday night, with Patrick Kane’s third goal of the evening the game-winner. He took a beautiful pass from Jonathan Toews off a turnover and ripped a wicked wrist shot past Kings goalie Jonathan Quick.
First the city screamed. Then it breathed. In that order.
There is nothing like a sports team to bring Chicago together. There are no divided loyalties in this instance, no Cubs/Sox turf wars. There is only one house, united. The Blackhawks. They can put a skip in your step or slap ankle weights on your legs, depending on how that night’s game goes. But you can’t look away. The local TV ratings prove it.
Those of you who are new to the Hawks thought this whole playoff thing was an innocent diversion, maybe good for a few laughs, but now you’re in it deeper than Tony Montana in “Scarface.’’
A game that had ended up as tight as a balled-up fist started off so easy for the Hawks. It was target practice on Quick in the first period, with the Blackhawks buzzing around him. Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith fired a slap shot from just inside the blue line, the puck sliding between Quick’s leg pads to make it 1-0. Kane’s second goal made it 2-0 less than six minutes into the game.
Then the Hawks inexplicably took the foot off the pedal, and the Kings started believing they were in the game. A shorthanded goal by Dwight King off a terrible Hawks’ power play cut the lead to 2-1 in the second. Suddenly the stress that had been dogging you during the postseason was back.
Quick robbed the Hawks’ Johnny Oduya early in the third, followed almost immediately by a Bryan Bickell penalty. Cue the ominous music. The ensuing power-play goal by Anze Kopitar tied the game.
What, you worry?
Of course you worry.
But Kane beat Quick with 3 minutes, 52 seconds left in regulation to give the Hawks a 3-2 lead. And that was that. It was, wasn’t it?
Yeah, well, about that. With 9.4 seconds left in the game, Mike Richards redirected a Kopitar shot to tie it 3-3.
“We just get a tough bounce, and then we have to go through some more adversity,’’ Hawks goalie Corey Crawford said. “Why not double OT to end it?’’
And why not Kane, who had been slumping earlier in the series, to win it with the final act of a hat trick?
“Right now, it’s almost like I’m in a different zone, like in the twilight zone,’’ he said afterward. “I’m kind of out of it.’’
The Hawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010, a huge accomplishment for a franchise that last won the title in 1961. But everything seems that much more amped-up this time around. Expectations grew so quickly and with so much fury because of the team’s 24-game points streak to start the season.
The Hawks didn’t come out of nowhere to win the Cup in 2010. We knew they were good. That season didn’t sneak up on us. We were engaged as a city. But not like this. The emotional energy being expended now is extreme, has been since the playoffs began. Moods have bounced up and down.
You love them (when they win), you love them not (when they lose).
The Hawks likely will be favored to win the Cup, which will mean nothing. They are the No. 1 seed, which will mean next to nothing against the Bruins. In the playoffs, an unpredictable sport becomes wildly unpredictable. It’s how the Hawks could come back from a 3-1 series deficit against the Red Wings in the semifinal.
And, yet . . . the Hawks should win the Cup. They’re that good. The Bruins are hot, having swept the more talented Penguins in the Eastern Conference finals. But they’re not Hawks good.
So no worries, right?
Hmmmm. See you Wednesday for Game 1.