Predators, Canucks, Sharks? No Problem!

If you haven’t yet, it’s time to jump on the hockey bandwagon because the Chicago Blackhawks are going to the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Hawks clinched the Western Conference Finals in a clean sweep of the San Jose Sharks this past Sunday at home. They were virtually unstoppable for the past four games, which is why they are going to the Championship.

The series and Game One started off shaky. Fans were worried at the start of the game when Jason Demers wrist shot scored from the blue line to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead. The goal never flustered the Hawks though. Midway through the second period Patrick Sharp’s wrist shot from just inside the blue line tied the game up at 1-1. Midway through the third period, Dustin Byfuglien’s slap shot from the slot was the game wining goal. The Hawks won Game One 2-1.

Game Two was all Blackhawks. Midway through the first period, Andrew Ladd beats Evgeni Nabokov to give the Hawks the early lead. Dustin Byfuglien got the second goal early in the second period off the redirect from Patrick Kane to give the Blackhawks a   2-0 lead. Jonathon Toews got the third goal off the redirect from Duncan Keith. It wasn’t until late second period when Patrick Marleau got the Sharks their first goal. Another redirect goal for the Hawks came in the third period by Troy Brouwer from Niklas Hjalmarsson. Brouwer’s goal was followed by another goal by Patrick Marleau. Game Two ended up scoring 4-2 in favor of the Hawks.

Game Three was a nail-biter with a thrilling overtime decider. Patrick Marleau was on fire for the Sharks, scoring another two goals. He scored one goal in the second period, and one in the third. Marleau’s first goal was matched with a one timer goal from Jonathon Toews to Patrick Sharp on a power play. The Hawks took the lead late in the third thanks to a break away goal from Dave Bolland.  Who else would tie the game up at the end of the third to send it into overtime but Patrick Marleau? The overtime goal came from Dustin Byfuglien off a one timer from Dave Bolland which gave them the win. Game Three ended up 3-2 in favor of the Hawks and they now lead the series 3-0.

Game Four looked like the Hawks could’ve found themselves in the same fate as the Boston Bruins. The Sharks controlled all of the first period and most of the second. The first two Shark’s goal, one from Logan Couture and the other from Patrick Marleau, would have flustered any other team but the Blackhawks. Brent Seabrook answered with a five-hole goal that went under review for a few minutes, but ended up counting. Dave Bolland tied the game late in the second period with a shot that floated over the glove of Nabokov.  Dustin Byfuglien scored off a one timer from Patrick Kane late in the third to give the Hawks the lead. The Sharks pulled Nabokov to give them an extra skater, but their strategy proved ineffective. Kris Versteeg scored on the empty net to clinch the game and the series for the Blackhawks. With the 4-2 victory, the Hawks are now preparing for the finals.   

The Hawks played with a lot of intensity and their physical presence was unmatched. Ben Eager, Dustin Byfuglien, and the rest of the team delivered hit after hit to the Shark’s in attempt to give the Hawks a confidence boost and help them win all four games. Duncan Keith even sacrificed 7 teeth after getting hit in the mouth to stop a puck.  

The MVP was undoubtedly the Blackhawks goalie Antti Niemi. He only allowed seven goals all series and had the games of his life. Niemi had 44 saves in game one, 27 in game two, 46 in game 3, and 18 in game four. Hopefully Niemi can put up these numbers in the finals.

The Stanley Cup Finals start this Saturday at 7 p.m. where the Blackhawks will play the Philadelphia Flyers.