Blackhawks lose to the Red Wings 4-3.
Not quite the win and get in scenario you imagined.
But no worries, they found the back door with help from the Wild.
Game 82 and everything comes down to this one game. It gave me a stomachache just thinking about what the implications of this game meant. With either a win or end in overtime, or a shootout, and no worrying about the Dallas Stars, the Blackhawks are in. A win in any form, finish 5th and play the Anaheim Ducks, who ended the season on a tear in the first round. Lose in overtime, or in a shootout, finish 6th and face the San Jose Sharks, last season’s Western Conference Finals foe. Lose in regulation, which means no guarantee of making the post-season and start sacrificing to the hockey gods so that the Minnesota Wild beat the Dallas Stars in regulation or extend the game to a shootout. If the Stars do lose? They slide in with the 8th seed and prepare for a first round date with the Vancouver Canucks. Remember I mentioned this in a previous post?
As they have all season, the Blackhawks took their fans on a roller coaster. Not a kiddie coaster either, but one with loop-de-loops, corkscrews and sudden drops all at 60 mph.
There was a sudden rush of hope when Michael Frolik scored the first goal of the game in the 2nd period, only for the Red Wings to storm back with two quick goals less than two minutes later.
Drew Miller made the lead two just before two minutes into the 3rd period, but Brent Seabrook cut the lead to one again. Dan Cleary restored the two goal lead again Â four minutes later before Duncan Keith brought the Blackhawks within one again; a little over halfway through the final frame.
The Blackhawks kept fighting back, but they just couldn’t find the equalizer. Then there was a glorious power play with about three minutes left in the period, an interference call after Jonathan Toews was hauled down by Jonathan Ericsson. It was the power play of all power plays, if there was ever a time for the Blackhawks somehow 4th ranked power play to get it together it was now. Just pushing the game to overtime would mean the Blackhawks would have a spot in the post-season.
But they couldn’t convert. With the clock running down and just seconds left the puck bounced around the feet of Duncan Keith out in front of the net, but to no avail. Time ran out on the game, but this time, too seemingly on the Blackhawks’ season.
It was too little, too late. It looked like the Blackhawks had squandered the season just as they had squandered many games this season that would have kept them out of this desperate, must-win situation. This was to be the heartbreakingly fitting finale to a disappointing season. They had control of their own destiny and couldn’t get it done. If they missed the playoffs, they had no one to blame but themselves. They would deserve it.
There was one sliver of hope for the BlackhawksÂ minuscule playoff hopes though, if the Wild could beat the Stars, a playoff spot would be theirs.
I for one was already going through the stages of grief on Twitter and had reached acceptance. I avoided everything but the Blackhawks Twitter updates to my cell phone about the Wild/Stars game. I figured there was no way another team would let a win and get in situation get away from them. I didn’t want to watch the last nail in the coffin to the Blackhawks lackluster season that was completely out of their hands.
Well things happen in threes and to round out both Carolina and Chicago’s inability to win and get in, Dallas did the same. Minnesota did the Blackhawks the ultimate favor and beat the Stars 5-3.
The Blackhawks were the last NHL team to punch a ticket to the playoffs. They snuck in theÂ back door, and now the Blackhawks are set to face none other than the Vancouver Canucks for the third straight year in the playoffs.
A deep sense of dread fills my heart in playing the Canucks again in the playoffs, as they’re my least favorite team in the NHL. But it should be quite the series, as these teams have no love lost as I’m sure the Canucks don’t forget being knocked out of the playoffs two years on the same day.
The Blackhawks have been handed an incredible opportunity and there’s nothing left for them to do but seize the moment.Â Anything is possible in the playoffs. Seeding? Records? They don’t matter anymore.
So buckle up, it’s time for another roller coaster ride, this ride even more vomit inducing than the last. Get your buckets andÂ garbageÂ cans ready.
It’s the best time of the year, it’s time for the NHL playoffs.
05:18: CHI Michael Frolik (11) Wrist Shot – Assists: P. Kane (46)
06:56: DET Tomas Holmstrom (18) Slap Shot – Assists: none
07:58: DET Pavel Datsyuk (23) Wrist Shot – Assists: D. Cleary (20) & T. Bertuzzi (28)
01:56: DET Drew Miller (10) Wrist Shot – Assists: V. Filppula (23) & J. Hudler (27)
04:07: CHI Brent Seabrook (9) Slap Shot – Assists: N. Hjalmarsson (7) & V. Stalberg (12)
08:11: DET Danny Cleary (26) Wrist Shot – Assists: T. Bertuzzi (29) & B. Rafalski (44)
11:22: CHI Duncan Keith (7) Backhand – Assists: P. Sharp (37) & M. Hossa (32)
Captain Force of Nature watch: Even, no points and 15-28 (54%) at the face-off dot. He drew the interference call for the power play late in the third but his line was gassed and couldn’t get theÂ equalizer.
Duncan Keith plus/minus rating watch: -1. Man did he ever get away with some high sticks today. He was making sticks fly out of Red Wings hands anytime he touched them. He got away with one on Franzen, who probably could have avoided being cut if he was wearing a visor.
Post-game quote fromÂ @TramyersCSN:
Q: “We wanted to avoid (relying on) Game 82. Now we have to root for Game 83.”
Quenneville on being in this position: “I should call the Rangers. This is certainly not where we want to be.”
Q on Wild game: “Weâ€™ll be watching with our fingers crossed and rooting like crazy.”
Toews: “The fact that weâ€™re completely at another teamâ€™s mercy right now, I canâ€™t believe it.”
Sharp: “Itâ€™s a horrible feeling to be sitting here. Youâ€™re helpless. But weâ€™ll watch that (Stars) game and see what happens.”
Kane: “We didnâ€™t do our job. Thatâ€™s what it came down to.”
Keith: “It’s not in the situation we wanted to be in but itâ€™s the one we put ourselves in.”
Bonus WE’RE IN THE PLAYOFFS! Goodies:
Joel Quenneville’s reaction to making the playoffs via @TramyersCSN:
“Iâ€™ve never been more excited about a hockey game that I didn’t particpate in in my life.”
“I was celebrating like a 5-year-old at a birthday party.”
Said Q on Troy Brouwer traveling to Vancouver with the team: “Nobody would like to play in that series more than Brou.”
Q&A from the Blackhawks with Coach Q on the playoffs, Dave Bolland’s status and more.
From the Wild after knocking out the Stars from the playoffs via @Russotrib:
Jose Theodore: “Coach Q in Chicago, he knows I’ve got his back.”
A video of a young women (in a Habs shirt?)Â showing the Stars a nice golf swing after the Wild score their 5th goal to seal Dallas’ fate behind Marc Crawford.
First Round Playoff Schedule via blackhawks.nhl.com:
All playoff games will be televised on CSN Chicago according to @TramyersCSN. For radio broadcasts games 1, 2, 4 and 7 are on WIND and the rest on WGN.
|Wednesday, April 13||at Vancouver, 10:00 p.m.|
|Friday, April 15||at Vancouver, 10:00 p.m.|
|Sunday, April 17||at Chicago, 8:00 p.m.|
|Tuesday, April 19||at Chicago, 8:00 p.m.|
|*Thursday, April 21||at Vancouver, 10:00 p.m.|
|*Sunday, April 24||at Chicago, 8:00 p.m.|
|*Tuesday, April 26||at Vancouver, TBD|