The Chicago Blackhawks are just 60 minutes away from drinking out of Lord Stanley, and it will be present at tonight’s game at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia. Should the Blackhawks win, it will be their first championship in 49 years.
“It has been flashing in my head since Game 1 of the playoffs,” said Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews. “Every time you win one game, it feels like you’re going all the way to the Cup. I’ve always said when you lose a game it feels like your season is going to be over. It just has been such a crazy ride.”
There is still the possibility that the Philadelphia Flyers capture a win at home, getting back into the series when facing elimination, as they have done against the Boston Bruins in the Conference Semi-Finals. The Blackhawks just need one win in their final potentially two games and they will achieve what no other Chicago roster has been able to do in nearly half a century.
The best part of the Blackhawks team is having key players who have done the dance with the Cup before and can now help lead the young team to their first Holy Grail.
“The biggest part is just sticking to our game plan as a team,” said Madden, who won the cup twice as a member of the New Jersey Devils. “Even though it’s a game where we can clinch, it doesn’t change anything for us. We have to play the same way we did in Game 5, with the same mentality.”
Andrew, Ladd, who won the Stanley Cup in 2006 with the Carolina Hurricanes, understands what it is like to lose Game 6, but win it back at home in Game 7.
“(After) Game 6 in Edmonton, it was probably the longest flight I’ve ever been on heading back to Carolina,” Ladd said. “I just remember feeling that heading into Game 7 that no one was going to beat us; that we were going to put our best effort out. Having lost that opportunity in Game 6, it just made you want it that much more.”
The one key part of this series that stands in the Blackhawks way is the coaching of Flyers head man Peter Laviolette. He was the head coach of the same Carolina Hurricanes team Ladd played for in 2006, and he also knows how to rally his club into rebounding in a series.
“It was nauseating,” Laviolette said of losing Game 6 in ’06. “I went back to the hotel room in Edmonton and I almost threw up. You keep fighting for it. One thing this (Flyers) team really has proven is that they’re capable of fighting. We’ll be ready to do that (Wednesday).”
The Stanley Cup Finals war this series has turned into will hit its climax tonight. In a year that has featured some of the most exciting hockey ever played, this game should be no different.
Micheal A. Aldred