Oliver: Keep hanging tough, Blackhawk faithful
The Stanley Cup Final.
It has a wonderful ring to it, doesn’t it, hockey fans?
Even better, the Blackhawks are in the midst of playing in it for the right to hoist Lord Stanley’s chalice.
For many, it’s been a foregone conclusion the Blackhawks still would be in it.
After getting off to a record-setting start and then earning the Presidents’ Trophy for having the most points at the end of this lockout-shortened season, the Blackhawks did look to be the team to beat.
But, as a National Hockey League Stanley Cup Final ad reminds everyone, it’s not yours until you shake on it.
So until that happens, here’s a gentle reminder to all of us Hawks fans to try to enjoy the series and not forget the great hockey that got us here.
If memory serves, the boys just about got themselves an earlier-than-expected start to their summer vacation during that series against the Detroit Red Wings.
Nothing like digging a 3-1 hole before somehow, improbably, staving off elimination to win three straight to advance. Oh, and that last game was in overtime.
The next series against the Los Angeles Kings – the one where they were facing the goalie everyone touted as the best in the NHL – seemed like a comparative cakewalk, didn’t it?
In the end, Jonathan Quick didn’t fare any better than Jimmy Howard or Josh Harding before him.
And all the while, our goaltender, Corey Crawford, just kept on rolling.
But you wouldn’t know that to hear from the Blackhawk faithful, or at least some of them.
Never mind that Crawford and backup goaltender Ray Emery shared the William Jennings Trophy for the goaltenders with the lowest goals-against average at the end of the regular season.
Never mind, too, that Crawford has been consistently good throughout the playoffs, giving up four goals only once.
Has he been perfect? No. But neither has any other goalie, including Boston’s Tuukka Rask, who gave up four goals in Game 1. One shutout doesn’t change that.
Of course, at the moment, Crawford is the least of the Blackhawks’ worries.
Then there are those who take issue with the lack of goal production from the Blackhawks’ top players, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa.
Funny, the top players for the Bruins – David Krejci, Nathan Horton and Patrice Bergeron – aren’t exactly lighting it up either.
If nothing else, this underscores just how evenly matched the Blackhawks and Bruins are. That most likely means this is going to be a long and hard-fought series.
(Notice how I’m not going to mention the Blackhawks’ power play. The less said on that score, the better.)
Jaromir Jagr, a winger for the Bruins and a hockey legend in his own right, wasn’t kidding when he said this series isn’t for the faint of heart.
It’s still early and there’s a lot of hockey left. Lord Stanley’s Cup remains up for grabs.
Let’s go, Blackhawks.
• Joan Oliver is the assistant news editor for the Northwest Herald. She can be reached at 815-526-4552 or by email at email@example.com.