Depth pays off for Blackhawks
CHICAGO (AP) - Much as they would love to get big contributions from Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, the Chicago Blackhawks have shown they can win even when their biggest stars aren't lighting up the scoreboard.
Depth pays off, and this is the reward.
The Blackhawks are now three wins from their second championship in four years after taking a 4-3 triple-overtime thriller from the Boston Bruins in Game 1.
It didn't matter that their biggest stars were largely quiet. They got enough contributions from their secondary players to escape with the victory and land the first blow in this clash between Original Six franchises. Game 2 is Saturday night in Chicago.
"I think the whole year it's been the depth that drives this team through the record and through the great regular season and obviously in the playoffs,'' center Michal Handzus said. "Obviously, our top guys are leading and they've been great, but you need to have depth. It's better for them to feel that if they don't score, they'll still have help from the bottom guys. The depth was one of the reasons why the regular season was very good for this team and one of the reasons why we are in the finals.''
That depth helped spark a record-setting start by the Blackhawks and propel them to the Presidents' Trophy for finishing the regular season with the most points.
It has also paid off in the postseason, with Toews and Kane largely being held in check. That was certainly the case in the opener against the Bruins, and the result was a comeback win for the ages.
Whether it was Andrew Shaw and feeding Dave Bolland to start the rally in the third period or Johnny Oduya scoring the tying goal in regulation from the point, the Blackhawks simply kept finding ways leading to the game winner in the third OT. You know how that went.
Michael Roszival shot the puck from the point into traffic, and it deflected off Bolland and Shaw before going past Tuukka Rask to finish off the fifth-longest Stanley Cup finals game in history.