For a while, it looked as though we would have a game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final Monday night. Then just like that it all changed. Monday's game six wasn't the only stunning result that happened in the world of sports though. The Stack is here to break it all down so let's get right to it and see what made "the stack" for today, Tuesday, June 25:
Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup
Stunning! Simply amazing! Almost like a dream (nightmare for Bostonians). Somehow, someway, the Chicago Blackhawks came back from being down 2-1 in the Stanley Cup Final and 2-1 in game six on the road to beat the Boston Bruins 3-2 and win the Stanley Cup. It is the fifth time in franchise history the Blackhawks have hoisted Lord Stanley's Cup. Game seven looked a distinct possibility early on. The Bruins came out with a ton of energy and dominated the game. Shot after shot they took. Not all of them reached goalie Corey Crawford, but just the constant pressure and forcing the Blackhawks to block shots and sacrifice their bodies really gave Boston an edge, yet for as much as they dominated, the Bruins only held a 1-0 lead going into the first intermission.
The Blackhawks stifled the Bruins a bit in the second period not allowing them to dominate as they did in the first. Boston had a couple of power plays but couldn't muster anything on them. The second one was costly as the Blackhawks scored short-handed to tie the game up 1-1.
Everyone was on the edge of their seats in the third period. Would the next goal be the game-winner? Would it decide whether or not the Stanley Cup and both teams head back to Chicago or just the Stanley Cup and the Blackhawks celebrating a victory? A turnover behind the net proved costly for the Blackhawks as Milan Lucic scored his seventh goal of the postseason off of a feed from David Krejci and the Bruins held a 2-1 lead. The Lucic-Krejci line was so valuable during the postseason. They were phenominal all postseason long. They helped push the Bruins. But then something happened. The Bruins got passive, got defensive. Looked as though they played not to lose. They kept dumping the puck into the zone rather than trying to attack. Sooner or later one had to think that would prove costly. It did. Seconds after the Blackhacwks pulled Crawford, the Blackhawks struck when Bryan Bickell (who probably should have been playoff MVP) scored to tie the game up 2-2. It seemed as though we were destined for a fourth overtime game in the Stanley Cup Final. Not so fast said Chicago. Seventeen seconds after they tied the game, the Blackhawks took the lead Dave Boland scored off of a shot that hit off the post and came up as a rebound right to him. He put it in and the Blackhawks stunned the building with a 3-2 lead. Boston could not do anything in the final minute and the Blackhawks won their second Stanley Cup in four years beating the Bruins in six 4-2. Patrick Kane was awarded Conn Smythe Trophy, the NHL's playoff MVP. He scored nine goals and added ten assists and became the fourth American born player to win MVP. He really turned it on the latter part of the playoffs and without his efforts, the Blackhawks may not have won the Stanley Cup. That's what great players do and Kane certainly stepped up his play when it mattered most.
The Bruins lost control of the series when the Blackhawks moved Kane to the Jonathan Toews and Bickell line. That line took off, scoring five goals in games four through six. They played great. They made Zdeno Chara look average and suspect on defense. His gaffe in the second period where he misplayed the puck led to the Blackhawks tying the game up 1-1. He struggled the final three or four games of this series, something very few would have expected. Give the Blackhawks a ton of credit. They totally deserve this win.
People poured into the streets of Chicago immediately following the Blackhawks victory. I suspect they will be partying for days to come. What a Stanley Cup Final we saw between these two teams. Two of the original six. The ratings were great and hockey fans have to hope that the NHL capitalizes on the momentum and attention from this season, even though it was a lockout shortened season and keep continue to make the sport enjoyable to watch. What a year. Congrats to the Chicago Blackhawks! Best team from start to finish.
NHL coaching hires
News last week of three NHL teams finding their next head coach and two of them simply flip-flopped. The New York Rangers hired former Vancouver Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault as their new head coach. Vigneault put together a lot of succesful teams during his time in Vancouver, but ever since the loss to the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final a couple of years ago, his teams struggled in the postseason. Still, it's a good hire by the Rangers.
Speaking of the Canucks, they hired John Tortorella as their next head coach. What's odd about that you ask? Oh nothing, except that Tortorella was just fired from the Rangers after their playoff exit against the Bruins. Tortorella is a firey guy. He's very smart, but sometimes he says stuff that gets him in trouble. Love the energy he brings and the Canucks got a good head coach. Just funny that both the Rangers and Canucks new head coaches coached the other team this past season and were both fired after losing in the playoffs.
The Dallas Stars also found a head coach. Lindy Ruff is the new man behind the bench for the Stars. Ruff coached the Buffalo Sabres for fifteen years before being fired by the team this year after their bad start. Ruff is very familiar with Dallas. His Sabres lost to the Stars in the 1999 Stanley Cup Final on the famous "no goal" in game six against the Stars that made the Stars Stanley Cup champions. Ruff had great success in Buffalo and is a very smart man. Good hire by the Stars.
Down goes Raffa
Stunning development in London on the first day of Wimbledon. Rafael Nadal, the fifth seed in the tournament and perhaps the best player in the world fell to Steve Darcis from Belgium, the 135th ranked player in the world in straight sets 7-6, 7-6, 6-4 to send Nadal home, his earliest exit in a Grand Slam event in his career. Nadal was struggling mightily in the match. He clearly wasn't at his best physically. Looked as though his knee was really giving him issues. He injured his knee last year at Wimbledon and bad luck struck twice this year again. Darcis picked a great time to play the best match of his career, but an ailing Nadal certainly helped Darcis out. It's a big blow to tennis and to Wimbledon to lose a star like Nadal on the first day, but it also means that guys like Roger Federer (who won Monday) and Andy Murray (who also won) and Novak Djokovic have one less star player to worry about. Wonder how Darcis will look in his second match. That will be well worth watching.
Coming up Wednesday: Reaction to top sports headlines from Tuesday