Bleeping unbelievable: Blackhawks stun Bruins
Blackhawks outlast Bruins in bruising, breathless triple-overtime Game 1 masterpiece
CHICAGO — Please forgive Andrew Shaw. He was tired, and it was late – just past midnight in Chicago, just past 1 a.m. in Boston. The FCC won’t be happy with NBC, but in his delirium, the 21-year-old kid spoke the truth. Bleeping right it was unbelievable.
Andrew Shaw was so happy he accidentally swore on national TV after scoring the Game 1 OT winner. (AP)The Blackhawks and the Bruins needed almost two games’ worth of hockey to decide Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final – 120 hits, 117 shots, 114 faceoffs in more than 112 minutes – and in the end the difference was a double deflection in triple overtime.
Michal Rozsival fired from the point. The puck deflected off the stick of David Bolland in the slot, ricocheted off the leg of Shaw in front and squeaked into the net 12:08 into the sixth period, and the Blackhawks won, 4-3. The fifth-longest game in Stanley Cup final history was over. And to think: This series is just beginning.
Shaw spoke to NBC’s Pierre McGuire on the ice under a spotlight in a darkened arena, “Chelsea Dagger” playing in the background, the fans still buzzing.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be pretty at this point,” Shaw said on national television in the United States. “It was a great shot, a great setup … [Bleeping] … It was unbelievable. All the guys, we deserved it.”
Andrew Shaw F-Bomb after Game 1 (PUCK DADDY) - Youtube
Yeah, he said it.
“Slip of the tongue,” said Shaw in the interview room later, smiling in a calmer moment. “I couldn’t think at all, actually. Could barely breathe. I think I made up a word in there, too, actually. I was never good in English.”
Not to be too breathless, but there were no words for this.
The night began with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s annual state-of-the-league news conference, a Q&A about all that is bad about the game and the business – the Olympic deal that still isn’t done, the future of the Phoenix Coyotes that still isn’t settled, the lockout that still isn’t six months into history.
Yet the night became about all that is good about the game and the business – two Original Six teams, two recent champions, playing in a packed house, vying to become the first two-time Cup winner in the salary-cap era, generating gobs of hockey-related revenue and giving everyone full value.
This was the kind of game that justified the love hardcore fans have for the NHL despite its flaws, and this was the kind of game that might have intrigued casual fans and even others who just clicked on the TV expecting Leno.
Chicago goalie Corey Crawford was tremendous in the two-and-a-half periods of overtime. (AP)Even though these teams hadn’t faced each other for more than 600 days – partly because of the lockout-shortened season – they looked like old rivals. They came out hitting. They went back and forth all night long. Both teams carried the play for stretches. Both teams bounced back when things went against them. Both teams battled through three OTs when their lungs and legs were burning.
“Both teams are just kicking, trying to survive,” said Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews. “Every time you go back on the ice, you just try and get that feeling that it’s just going to be that one chance that makes the difference. Obviously we got a big one with Shaw going to the net there.”
For Boston, the loss was brutal. The Bruins took a 3-1 lead in the third period when Patrice Bergeron pinged a shot in off a post on a power play. But then Torey Krug, a 22-year-old rookie defenseman, playing only his 13th NHL game, threw the puck up the middle. Shaw blocked it at the Boston blue line and fed Bolland for a goal. Then Johnny Oduya fired from the point, and the puck glanced off the inside of the skate of Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference and into the net.
And then came the overtimes.
The Bruins had two power plays when the Blackhawks were caught with too many men on the ice twice. In the first OT, Nathan Horton hit a post (and left with an injury). In the second OT, Tyler Seguin couldn’t score on a semi-breakaway and Zdeno Chara fired a shot that hit the skate of Jaromir Jagr and clanked off a post. In the third OT, Kaspars Daugavins, playing only his third game of the playoffs, could have redirected a pass past Crawford. He made a move instead, and he had Crawford down and out, but he couldn’t get off a backhand shot. After he came back to the bench, he rested his forehead on top of the boards. Inches. Seconds. Hockey.
“Last time we won the Cup, we lost the first two games to Vancouver,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “It never stopped us from coming back. This certainly won’t. When you look at the game, it could have gone either way. I thought we had some real good looks in overtime. With a little bit of luck, we could have ended it before they did. But that’s the name of the game.”
For Chicago, the victory was a relief. The Blackhawks were awful on the power play, even during a 5-on-3, and fell into that 3-1 hole. But at the end of regulation, they had 78 shot attempts to the Bruins’ 40. They had controlled more of the game. They had come back to tie it. They faltered in the overtimes, taking those two too-many-men penalties, breaking down defensively. But Crawford kept them in it, kept giving them a chance.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Oduya said. “You can feel it as the game goes longer. Every play could be the difference. It’s just tremendous. You feel alive.”
Just look at the numbers: The Blackhawks finished with 63 shots, the Bruins 54. The Bruins blocked 40 shots, the Blackhawks 23. The Blackhawks delivered 61 hits, the Bruins 59. The Blackhawks won 58 faceoffs, the Bruins 56. Chicago's Duncan Keith played 48:40, Boston's Dennis Seidenberg 48:36.
“The hockey world is watching,” said Blackhawks winger Patrick Sharp. “To put out an effort like that for both sides, it was fun to be a part of. Thankfully it’s over. Boston was everything that we expected. They’re a fast skating team. They’re physical. They play well defensively. So it’s going to be a really tough series.”
Should be bleeping unbelievable.
Rask has been lights out during these playoffs for the Bruins and he has outplayed Crawford in all of the first three games IMO.
I have to give it for the kid even though he's a product of the junior system of my Finnish team's local rival.
Its looking more and more like the Blackhawks will win this one.
BOSTON — The commissioner of the National Hockey League walked onto the ice in a dark suit, and the boos began. The fans always boo Gary Bettman when he awards the Stanley Cup, especially when he awards it to the road team, only this time they were louder, stronger, angrier. Six months ago, the league was locked out. No one had forgotten.
But then Bettman handed the silver chalice to Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, and he disappeared. The boos turned to cheers. This is why the NHL prospers despite itself. This is why the owners and players could get away with fighting about money, shutting down their league, shortening the schedule. This is why they returned to packed houses and high TV ratings and all that hockey-related revenue.
The boos turned to cheers when Gary Bettman walked away and Jonathan Toews hoisted the Stanley Cup. (Reuters)Because despite the business and the BS, there is nothing like the NHL at its best. Nothing like two elite teams playing a seesaw Stanley Cup Final, battling through overtimes and injuries. Nothing like thinking there would be a Game 7, only to witness Game 6 swing in 17.7 of the final 76 seconds, screeching to a sudden end. Nothing like the sights and sounds of Andrew Shaw, Cup high in his hands, blood dripping down his cheek, happy profanity flying from his mouth.
“It was a blur,” said Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford. “But man, it felt good.”
The Blackhawks should not have escaped with a 3-2 victory Monday night, with Bettman handing the Conn Smythe Trophy to Patrick Kane and the Cup to Toews, with Toews telling Chicago bartenders to stay open because the boys were coming home to celebrate. The Boston Bruins had dominated most of the game, and Milan Lucic had given them a 2-1 lead 12:11 into the third period.
Game 7 seemed like destiny in a series that featured five overtime periods and alternating leads – Blackhawks up, 1-0; Bruins up, 2-1; Blackhawks up, 3-2. The only question was how many players would be left skating.
The Blackhawks’ Marian Hossa was playing with a bad back, the Bruins’ Nathan Horton with a bad shoulder. The Blackhawks’ Michal Handzus was reportedly playing with a broken wrist and a torn knee ligament, the Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron with a broken rib, torn cartilage, torn muscles. Shaw took a puck in the face Monday night. Bergeron suffered a separated shoulder. The Bruins’ Jaromir Jagr left with a … The list goes on. It is long. It is hockey.
But then the Blackhawks pulled Crawford, charged into the Boston zone and won a battle along the wall. Toews, playing despite a head injury, ended up with the puck and threw it across to Bryan Bickell, playing despite a Grade 2 knee sprain. Bickell slapped it in and screamed. Tie game. One minute, 16 seconds to go.
“Sometimes when you’re in a dogfight like that and you score a goal,” said Blackhawks winger Patrick Sharp, “the other team’s kind of reeling.”
The Blackhawks charged into the Boston zone again. Defenseman Johnny Oduya fired from the left point. The puck deflected off the left post, and David Bolland, who battled a groin injury this season, chipped it over the goalie’s stick just before a defenseman could swipe it away. The Blackhawks led, 3-2, with 58.3 seconds to go. They became the first team to rally from a one-goal deficit in the final two minutes of regulation to clinch the Cup.
“Better than sex,” Bolland said.
Blackhawks players celebrate with the Stanley Cup. (Reuters)It doesn’t get better than that, and even the Bruins knew it. They escaped the first round because they became the first team to rally from a three-goal, third-period deficit in a Game 7, beating the Toronto Maple Leafs in overtime, surviving.
“Sometimes they go your way, and sometimes they don’t,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “We’ve lived through both of them, so we know how it feels on both sides of it, winning and being the losers.”
That’s this league. That’s a byproduct of the pain. The labor battles and lockouts begat the salary cap, and the salary cap begat parity, and parity begat unpredictability and excitement and maybe even more brutality – especially in the playoffs, the tournament of the top 16 teams, in which everyone is trying to get an edge.
At a time when the players grow beards, the only razors are in references to the margins between victory and defeat. You can move on or you can be gone because of one play, one bounce, one sequence. Even the Blackhawks came close to elimination, falling into a 3-1 series hole in the second round against the Detroit Red Wings, winning Game 7 in overtime, surviving.
But that’s why this is so impressive.
The Blackhawks won the Cup in 2010. They kept their core, but they gutted their supporting cast because of a salary-cap crunch. Only eight players who dressed for the Cup clincher that night dressed for the Cup clincher Monday night.
Yet they were the team that became the first to win the Cup twice in the salary-cap era, and they beat the last two champions – the Bruins (2011) and Los Angeles Kings (2012) – not to mention the Wings, who won the Cup in 2008 and went to the final in 2009. They put together an epic season, starting 21-0-3, setting a record with points in their first 24 games, winning the Presidents’ Trophy as the NHL’s top regular-season team, finishing what they started.
“I think this time around we realized a little bit more how tough it is to get here,” Toews said. “We didn’t want to waste this opportunity. It’s a special group. Those guys worked like dogs every single day. We had great players sitting out every day that didn’t get to play much, and those guys sacrificed. Everyone paid the price for this win. It feels pretty special when you give so much to something.”
The lockout hurt people. It cost everyday folks who work in and around the NHL. It hurt fans who invest their time, emotion and money in the league. It shortened the regular season to 48 games and messed with statistics and history. But when it was over, everyone went back to work, and the fans reinvested. The NHL sprang back to life. One thing unspoiled was the playoffs. It was still four rounds, still the same grueling two months, still the same gladiator spectacular.
No one will forget what happened from September to January. But no one will forget what happened in April, May and June, either. Especially June.
“I think it’s been a good bounce-back half-season for the league, personally,” Julien said. “I think the fans got back into it, and you always appreciate their support, because if I’m a guy on the other side, I know how I would have felt. Our fans are very forgiving and supportive, and that’s what this game needs. In order for us to thank them and pay them back, you’ve got to give them the kind of hockey I think that they saw from all the teams here in the playoffs. It was an exciting last couple of months.”
And now it will be an exciting summer in Chicago, until NHL training camp opens again – this time, on time.
“It’s hard to celebrate right now,” Toews said, standing on the ice, amid the mob of players and officials, family and friends. “It makes me pretty exhausted. But once we fill the Cup up, I think we’ll be feeling pretty good.”