Tag: Ilya Bryzgalov

Los Angeles Kings v Chicago Blackhawks - Game One

Discover ‘Road to the Cup’: Chicago Blackhawks


The road to the Stanley Cup is a familiar one for the Blackhawks.

The ‘Hawks got to a championship series for the first time in 49 years in 2010 — and snapped the drought, defeating Philly in six games — then did the trick three years later, dispatching of the Boston Bruins in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, also in six games.

This year, Chicago is looking to travel down that road once more to become the first team since the ’97-98 Detroit Red Wings to hoist Lord Stanley two years in a row.

Let’s take a look at how the ‘Hawks got to where they are…

Round 1: Beat St. Louis 4-2

In one of the most exciting first-round series in recent memory, Chicago rallied from an 0-2 deficit to win four straight and dispatch of their longtime rival. The Blues looked to have things in control after winning consecutive overtime games to open the series, but the ‘Hawks showed their championship form by winning a pair of OT games of their own — including a crucial Game 5 at Scottrade in St. Louis — before closing it out at home at the United Center.

As per usual, it was Chicago’s dynamic duo leading the way. In Game 4, Patrick Kane scored the game-winner in overtime and, the next night out, it was “Captain Serious” Jonathan Toews who provided the dramatics, capturing Game 5 with an OT winner on a breakaway against Ryan Miller.

Round 2: Beat Minnesota 4-2

In 2013, the ‘Hawks easily dispatched of the Wild in the opening playoff round, losing just once on the road to the Stanley Cup.

This year’s rematch would prove a much more difficult task.

Chicago came up against a tough, determined and stingy Minnesota team in Round 2, one that held the ‘Hawks to just six goals over the final four games of the series. But, in a familiar theme, it was the Blackhawks’ stars that made the difference in the end as Toews scored the game-winning goal in Game 5 — with less than 16 minutes remaining — before Kane once again provided the OT heroics in Game 6, flipping a backhand past Ilya Bryzgalov to move the ‘Hawks onto the Western Conference final.

“He’s a special player,” Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville said of Kane, per ESPN. “Guys have that instinct, have that knack of finding pucks, wanting to be out there, wanting to score.”

Luckily for Kane, he’ll have plenty more opportunities to get out there and find the back of the net.

And then there were six: Wild eliminated

Ilya Bryzgalov,

For more entries in this series, click here.

While the Pittsburgh Penguins see their season ended on Game 7 with feelings of opportunities slipping through their fingers, some would probably argue that the Minnesota Wild can keep their heads high after the Chicago Blackhawks dispatched them in six after a shocking 2-1 OT goal by Patrick Kane.

How about we take a look back at the Wild’s 2013-14 season, then?

  • The Wild dealt with a dizzying array of injuries and bad luck with their goalies, at least health-wise. Niklas Backstrom, Josh Harding and Darcy Kuemper dealt with maladies at different points in the season while Ilya Bryzgalov endured a turbulent season of his own. Maybe it wasn’t always spotless, but considering the circumstances, Minnesota survived netminding headaches that would submarine more fragile franchises.
  • Speaking of goalies, answering that question for next season is key … and isn’t exactly easy.
  • Ryan Suter may just be primed for his long-awaited Norris Trophy win. If nothing else, there is little doubt that he’s recognized as a top NHL defenseman logging huge minutes. In general, the Wild’s top guys continue to produce, even the likes of Zach Parise seem to cringe at charges of boredom.
  • GM Chuck Fletcher keeps making big moves to bolster this team. While the occasional transaction backfires (Matt Moulson didn’t fit in too well), he has a strong batting average, including the proactive trade for Bryzgalov. With rampant rumors that Thomas Vanek might come to town, this team could make yet another step with the right tweaks.
  • Then again, maybe it’s just a matter of developing some of the team’s promising young players. Wild fans should be excited about the thought of Mikael Granlund’s continued growth, alone.
  • Minnesota fought to make the playoffs and fell to the Blackhawks again, yet they tested Chicago this time around after slinking against them in five games in the second round last year. It won’t be easy in a stacked Central Division, but the question is whether the Wild can be deeper in the mix for a higher playoff seed in 2014-15.

Showtime in overtime: Kane shocks Wild in Game 6, sends Chicago to conference finals

Minnesota Wild v Chicago Blackhawks - Game One

During a post-game interview, Patrick Kane made the understatement that the Chicago Blackhawks were “probably fortunate” to win Game 6 against the Minnesota Wild 2-1 in overtime, ending the series in six games.

If the last couple games are any indication, the Blackhawks are absolutely fortunate that they employ Kane and Jonathan Toews.

The Blackhawks are on a ludicrous run (14-0) in series that have been tied 2-2 lately, but this one ranks up there in their robberies. Toews powered Chicago to a tough Game 5 win while Kane helped his team steal tonight’s game despite Minnesota carrying a significant amount of the play.

Simply put, there aren’t many players who could score the kind of goal Kane managed to win this game and end this series, let alone doing so in a high-pressure situation like this. The Blackhawks carry an almost unfair advantage in these situations; they have Toews’ mixture of grit and talent, Kane’s creativity and guys you can’t forget like Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.

You also cannot forget the work of Corey Crawford, especially on a night in which he made 34 out of 35 saves.

Actually, both goalies were brilliant at times on Tuesday, as Ilya Bryzgalov looked impressive at times in stopping 25 out of 27 shots. It’s easiest to summarize the high points of their nights in a clip that includes strong work for both netminders:

The Blackhawks push their bid for back-to-back champions to the Western Conference finals while the Wild fall to Chicago for the second year in a row. Let this be clear, though: Minnesota obviously made some huge steps toward making this a rivalry instead of merely a recurring playoff matchup.

For now, Chicago can enjoy the perks of rolling out Kane and Toews, however.