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One Minute Remaining: Playoff Reflections

by Harvey Wittenberg / Chicago Blackhawks
The 1938 Cup-winning team were the ultimate underdog—they squeezed into the playoffs by two points and actually had a losing record during the regular season.

Yes, it's a bummer for Blackhawk fans—the team could not advance further in the playoffs this season, one year after coming within one shot in Game 7 at Vancouver of making the next round.

There's no consolation in not winning the Cup again, but the Hawks are not alone. Parity doesn't make everyone happy, but it sure makes  the playoffs interesting, which usually boils down to hot goaltending and lucky bounces.

This postseason marks the first time in NHL history that two teams below the top five finishers in either conference are battling for the Stanley Cup. New Jersey wound up sixth in the East, and Los Angeles finished in the last slot in the West.

Chicago's 2010 Cup team was second in the West and beat Philadelphia, who was seventh in the East, but few will forget the Hawks' incredible comeback on Marian Hossa's overtime goal in Game 5 of the opening round at the UC against seventh-seeded Nashville.

The last eighth seed to make it to the Final came in 2006, but Edmonton couldn't upset Carolina, the second seed in the East.

The 1961 Stanley Cup team pulled a major upset in the semifinals by ousting the favored Montreal Canadiens, who finished 17 points ahead during the regular season and were after their sixth consecutive Cup. Hall of Fame goalie Glenn Hall blanked Montreal in the last two games of the series, and the Hawks went on to whip Detroit for the title.

The all-time Stanley Cup Cinderella title belongs to the 1938 Blackhawks. Not only did that Hawk team barely get into the playoffs by only two points, they had a losing regular-season record (14-25-9). After beating Montreal and the New York Americans, they faced Canadian Division-winners Toronto without their top goalie, who had a broken toe.

Using minor-league goalie Alfie Moore in the opener, they beat the Leafs 3-1. Moore never played another game for the Hawks, but they went on to clinch their second Stanley Cup in a five-game series.

Chicago's first Stanley Cup came in 1934 behind the goaltending of Charlie Gardiner, who blanked Detroit 1-0 as Harold "Mush" March scored the overtime winner. Unfortunately, Gardiner died of a brain tumor eight weeks after that game.

While the finals are going on, the 2012-13 Hawks will be gearing up for another run at the elusive Cup, which has not seen a defending champ repeat since 1998.
Look for Harvey Wittenberg's new revised book, "Tales from the Chicago Blackhawks Locker Room," now available.
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