7:26 PM CDT, June 13, 2013
I agree with the adage that suggests "luck is where hard work meets opportunity."
It was coined by a first-century Roman philosopher named Seneca, but I always attribute it to former Blackhawk Richie Preston. It's more colorful that way and it's a way to keep the name of one of the hardest-working Hawks ever alive.
These Hawks are hard workers. They dutifully have taken their lunch pails to work and have prevailed in back-to-back multiple-overtime playoff games. Bravo.
It's accurate, however, to suggest the Blackhawks are lucky to be up a game in their Stanley Cup Final against Boston.
As much as anything, the Bruins refused to win it. They had odd-man breaks. They had two power play chances in extra sessions, both courtesy of too many men on the ice violations.
It should have ended late in the second OT, but Zdeno Chara's blast that ricocheted off Jaromir Jagr's skate drew iron. Boston's best chance came when Kaspars Daugavins was unchallenged right in front of Corey Crawford, who was down and vulnerable.
Instead of sending a tired United Center crowd home with long faces, Daugavins couldn't muster a shot on a sprawling Crawford. The winger's miss was reminiscent of those frequently seen in the 30-and-over, beer-and-pizza league at Homewood-Flossmoor.
The Hawks also caught a break when Nathan Horton, the playoffs No.2 point producer, left with an injury.
I'm not suggesting it's a tainted victory. No such thing in the playoffs. The Blackhawks played well, but they were as lucky as they were good.
No.1 Star: Again, it was Crawford. The Hawks' goaltender upstaged Jonathan Quick in the Western finals and he's out of the gate quickly to do the same thing against Tuukka Rask, who shut out the high-scoring Penguins twice in the Bruins' sweep of the Eastern finals.
Blueline blues: There's no other way to say it — the Blackhawks' defensemen were more of a detriment than an asset in Game 1. Brent Seabrook looked sedated, tripping and falling (again) and making Duncan Keith work even harder than Joel Quenneville wants him to. Niklas Hjalmarsson wasn't good either.
Shawmania: Andrew Shaw's redirect of a redirect that won it will be what everybody remembers, but Shaw's heads-up play and setup for Dave Bolland's first postseason goal was huge. It cut the deficit to 3-2 and gave the team a lift it desperately needed nearing the middle of the third period.
Shaw's boyish smile (chocolate milk mustache included), guts against larger men and potty mouth this spring have ensured his No.65 sweater will be a hot item when Hawks fans gear up for next season.
Calling our captain: In 18 games, Jonathan Toews has one goal. Somebody should tell the 2010 Conn Smythe winner this isn't what the marketing department had in mind when it approved the slogan.
Toews does many wonderful things, but scoring needs to be among them. He's paid well and he's the captain. Put the puck in the net. And get off the ice when your replacement has jumped over the boards.
Special contributor Dan McNeil hosts "The McNeil and Spiegel Show" weekdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on WSCR-AM 670.
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