Admit it, Chicago: You were putting on your Game 7 face as the clock spun down on the third period in Monday night’s Blackhawks game.
The Boston Bruins were about to take Game 6, 2-1. You told yourselves you weren’t worried. The Stanley Cup would come down to one game, on home ice. Advantage: Hawks.
The Blackhawks had come this far after trailing in two postseason series. They’d come out on top in overtime, double overtime, triple overtime. They’re a team that always seems to come through when it really matters, and Game 6 didn’t really matter. Right?
Tell that to winger Bryan Bickell, who tied the score with 1:16 left in regulation, and center Dave Bolland, who slapped in the winning goal 17 seconds later. You saw it, but still. Did that really happen?
Winger Marian Hossa: “We were down with a couple of minutes left in the game, and all of a sudden, bang, we won the Stanley Cup.”
Blackhawks President John McDonough: “I think lightning just struck.”
From their record-breaking start to their heart-stopping finish, the Hawks owned the NHL this season. Twenty-four games without a loss. Eleven wins in a row. The best regular-season record in the league. It was hard to look away, and that’s a good thing, considering the rest of Chicago’s sports scene lately.
How bad is it? The Cubs swept the Sox, that’s how bad.
The Bulls soldiered on without Derrick Rose, and they had their moments: They snapped the Miami Heat’s winning streak at 27 in March, and they embarrassed the defending champs in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals in Miami. But you knew that was going to end badly, and it did.
With the Bulls out, Chicago fans were reduced to rooting against LeBron James. That turned out to be a losing bet, too.
The Hawks just kept winning, but somehow they never made it look easy. They earned every win, and made the fans earn them, too. You call yourself a hockey fan? Better stay in your seat till it’s over.
Bang. It’s over.
Never mind that Game 7, Chicago. It’s time to put on the parade face.