Back on June 1, there were players from 27 NHL teams that wished they had their feet in the Blackhawks' skates when they battled the Los Angeles Kings in that fateful Game 7 at the United Center. While Chicago fans are disappointed in not returning to the Stanley Cup Final for the second straight season, it was a good run that came up only one shot or one goal short.
What makes hockey a great sport for fans is the fact that the game can change in a second—or, as Blackhawks fans remember from last year, the 17-second turnaround in Boston that clinched their second Stanley Cup in four seasons.
There was little doubt all season that being the defending champs, especially against Central Division rivals, the Blackhawks had a target on their backs. The Western Conference has proven to be more than extremely tough, with four teams having a better regular-season record than Chicago.
Not trying to make any excuses, but when you add the short turnaround from last year, plus having 10 players in the Olympics, there were no easy games. Just ask Nashville, who took the season series after winning four of five against Chicago, but didn't make the playoffs and fired longtime coach Barry Trotz.
After winning a physical series with St.Louis, a hungry Minnesota team battled the Blackhawks after upsetting division winner Colorado. Wild Coach Mike Yeo said after losing in six games that Chicago had a greater resolve.
That resolve carried the Blackhawks as they came back from a 3-1 deficit against a resilent L.A. team, which managed to get that last lucky goal off a deflected shot in overtime. So, Blackhawks fans, don't despair, because next season the team's "One Goal" remains—to bring another Cup back to Chicago!