Blackhawks get it done when it matters most: Feschuk

1 Jun 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Blackhawks get it done when it matters most: Feschuk.

The Blackhawks had been trying to become the first team in the salary-cap era to repeat as Stanley Cup champions, and they’d come within a timely goal of earning a trip to the league final. The worst fears of both Amalie Arena, home of the Tampa Bay Lightning and the expected venue for the Garth Brooks World Tour, were realized Sunday when it was announced that the three Brooks shows set to be played in Tampa would all be canceled. But in the moments after they fell — after they were defeated in overtime by the Los Angeles Kings — they were left with the feeling of emptiness that comes with a mission unaccomplished. Brooks released a statement Sunday stating that all three shows, scheduled for June 5 and 6, would be canceled due to a scheduling conflict with Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Given the distance they’d travelled and the energy they’d expended, a trip that ended at Lord Stanley’s front gate amounted to a cruel kind of mental torture. “It was a tough thing to visit, a real negative moment,” Joel Quenneville, the Blackhawks head coach, was saying. “It’s an amazing journey. The Murray Harbour native was seeking a new team after becoming a salary-cap casualty when the New York Rangers bought out the veteran centre’s contract.

The Lightning are slated to play the Chicago Blackhawks in the final’s second game on June 6, the same date Brooks was set to play two separate shows at 7 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. The issue of getting the network crews and their gear out of the building and getting our crews and gear into the building late Saturday/early Sunday for two shows on Sunday raises serious safety concerns. It is because of those safety concerns that the choice is being made to refund all shows and reschedule depending on finding a date that works for both the arena and the tour. “This was a hard decision for everyone. They’ll see Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad, torching their stick blades; they’ll see Marian Hossa and a revitalized Brad Richards, for whom is this not their first rodeo; they’ll see a tireless Duncan Keith and a big-game Brent Seabrook, still skating around and never tiring. The last two games of the Western Conference Final reminds us that the NHL is split up into two kinds of players: The ones that are at their best when championships are on the line, and the ones that do not.

Lightning: After falling behind three times in the first round against the Detroit Red Wings, the Lightning won Game 6 at Joe Louis Arena and then Game 7 back on home ice. The Blackhawks didn’t win an astounding number of games during the regular season — five teams won more — and there were times when they looked as ordinary and vulnerable as any borderline playoff squad in the tough Western Conference.

Which is to say “the Chicago Blackhawks and nearly everyone else.” The first essential question about the Lightning: Have they learned how to do what the Blackhawks do? But the Blackhawks yet again proved something we’ve come to know about the NHL’s 82-game season — it’s neither necessary nor advisable for elite teams to do anything but the bare minimum to earn a playoff berth. Blackhawks: Corey Crawford’s struggles led coach Joel Quenneville to turn to backup goaltender Scott Darling and then back to his starter to beat the Nashville Predators in six. In a league that makes its teams suffer through a marathon, the best franchises understand it’s important to save one’s energy stores for the truly important sprints. It was a game-plan that assumed offensive success from their forwards, while focusing on “remembering their net” in the defensive zone to support Ben Bishop and owning the neutral zone with their speed.

They can’t be so top heavy against the Blackhawks, especially when Chicago generates offense throughout its lineup (13 players with at least five points; the Lightning have nine, despite playing three more games). But when it comes to making themselves the headline in big-stakes situations, Chicago captain Jonathan Toews and chief sniper Patrick Kane have become the gold standard. Toews, among his many accomplishments in Saturday’s two-goal evening, became the first player in NHL history to have multiple-goal performances in Games 5 and 7 on the road in the same series. During that amazing span, which goes back to the Blackhawks battling back from 3-1 down in last year’s Western final against the Kings, Kane has racked up three goals and 14 points in five contests. As Duncan Keith, the No. 1 on Chicago’s tireless defensive corps, said on Saturday: “There’s no two guys I’d rather have on my team coming into a big game.

I think that rubs off on a lot of guys.” That’s not to say they’re vastly superior to the Lightning, even if the Western champion has won four of the previous five Cups. That’s simply to say that, when you’re watching the Blackhawks it’s reasonable to assume you haven’t quite witnessed their best-possible performance until the moment is just big enough.

When that moment arrives, they’ve built a compelling recent history of leaving their alleged peers in the dust in an all-or-nothing sprint for their on-ice lives.

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