For many, last night may have induced a little deja vu at the United Center.
The heart-stopping action, the unlikely hero, and the fifth home playoff overtime victory in the last three seasons brought the house down just the way it's been done previously.
The scene was unimaginable as little as a week ago. How many times has this team been "done" this year? Right after the February 18th loss to Columbus comes to mind. After the regular season finale against Detroit, too. After Games 1, 2, and 3 of this series, it just "wasn't their year." And the truth is, it still might not be their year. But that isn't the point.
(The Hockey News)
In a situation where a sweep would have been understandable, the Hawks rose to the occasion. That's what this team does. If you haven't figured that out by now, there's no helping you.
What Game 6 told me as a fan and onlooker, regardless of what happens on Tuesday, is that this is going to be a special ride for years to come. If there was ever a situation to lay down, it was after the Game 3 loss at home. Fans were already looking to next season, the excuses (most revolving around the lack of rest the core has had over the last year) were in place, and Chicago had accepted that it simply wasn't happening this year. Luckily, the Blackhawks had not.
Three victories later, two of them blowouts, the Hawks are back in the driver's seat.
The future continues to look brighter and brighter as well. What more can be said about Ben Smith? Even besides the game-winner, his hockey instincts at age 22 are noticeable on hockey's biggest stage. I don't think he's made a single mistake with the puck. Add an emerging Michael Frolik and Jeremy Morin to the mix and you're looking at some serious depth in the future.
When I say this team is here to stay, I don't just mean for this season. I mean for years to come. If the Hawks can pull off this performance against a loaded Canucks team in a cap-restrained, Stanley Cup hangover influenced season, what's going to happen next year?
If the Canucks somehow match the Hawks' clutch ability (for the first time ever) and win on Tuesday, it'll be tough to really be disappointed. This team has given us so much and will continue to do so for years.
But if the Hawks win? It's anyone's game the rest of the way, and that's bad news for the rest of the NHL.
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