THIRTY FINAL THOUGHTS AS THE BLACKHAWKS CAPTURE LORD STANLEY’S CUP

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In the pre-Salary Cap Era, it was somewhat easier for teams to win a couple of Stanley Cups in succession, but not any more.

Looking backward, we find that the last two teams to accomplish that feat were the Detroit Red Wings of 1996-97 and 1997-98, and the Pittsburgh Penguins of 1990-91 and 1991-92.

The Blackhawks’ triumph over Tampa Bay on Monday night in Chicago immediately raises this question: Can this club be considered a dynasty having won Cups in 2010, 2013 and 2015?

By the standards, The Maven established during The Original Six Era, the answer is negative. The definition was simple and to the point; a club had to win three straight Cups which, by the way, Wayne Gretzky’s Oilers never did.

Al Arbour‘s Islanders captured not only four consecutive Cups, but won 19 — 19! — straight playoff series; a feat that never will be equaled.

That said, I believe that what Joel Quenneville’s Windy City sextet has done in this Salary Cap Era qualifies the Blackhawks as a dynasty.

And now that the Stanley Cup ball is over, here are my playoff and other observations. Feel free to disagree — even about the referees.

1. The two most decisive Cup-determining plays occurred in the first period of Game 5 in Tampa Bay. A) Nikita Kucherov intercepts Corey Crawford’s bad clear, but the Chicago goalie does a Circus Rubber-Man Routine. CC makes the save and Kucherov flies into the goal post, out for the game. B) Ben Bishop dances to do a Mambo with Victor Hedman while Patrick Sharp scores.

2. Had the Bishop Expeditionary Force remained in the crease, the utter deflation of the Tampa audience might never have taken place. Who knows; the otherwise hot Bishop might have posted a shutout.

3. Before the Final started, who would have believed that Harvard scholar Alex Killorn would have overshadowed Steven Stamkos?

4. When soon-to-be-held contract talks are held between Stamkos’ agent and GM Steve Yzerman, you can be sure that the latter will point out that even Mister Keen — Tracer Of Lost Persons — could not find the Bolts captain in the Final when it came to be Steven being a lamp-lighter.

5. If you’re wondering how Jon Cooper managed to get a virtually unknown outfit like the Lightning so far, know this: Coop’s philosophy is a take-off on Jacques (1995 Devils Cup) Lemaire’s strategy; leave no room for the foe to move on the ice. (Problem: It doesn’t hold when you play Chicago.)

6. The Devils are hoping that there’s a New Jersey version of Alex Killorn on its 2015-16 roster. His name is Paul Thompson, who had a big AHL year in Albany. “Thompson has put himself in position where he’ll be contesting for an NHL spot at training camp,” says rookie coach John Hynes.

7. Johnny Oduya turns unrestricted free agent this summer. Until now, everyone figured that Chicago would leave him for the market. But he’s been so courageous, so effective even after the injury, Stan Bowman may have to figure a $$ way to keep the dauntless D-man.

8. It seems like centuries ago, but the Blackhawks renaissance actually began when Scotty Bowman was imported as an advisor and Joel Quenneville arrived as coach. Then came new owner Rocky Wirtz, replacing his dad, Bill, who died whereupon Rocky turned the staff upside down. All contributed to the turnabout.

9. Only Glen Sather has the answer, but one of the most intriguing questions in Rangerville is whether the Blueshirts retain or deal Cam Talbot.

10. Henrik Lundqvist‘s back-up has never had such a high market value. Then again, his value to the Rangers was never more evident than this year.

11. I don’t know about you, but officiating in the Final has been splendid. The reason I’m convinced of this is that for five games nobody was talking about the zebras. I wasn’t crazy about the way they handled the first two periods of Game 6 (See No. 20 below).

12. Not that the Edmonton high command gives a darn about this, but it’s neat to know that whiz-kid Connor McDavid also happens to be an exemplary scholar … and a gentleman, which is a convenient combo.

13. Considering Coach Q’s stache, can you imagine him with a beard — drinking champagne from The Cup?

14. Reporter Leo Scaglione, Jr. sends this advisory: “Corey Crawford is the Claude Lemieux of goalies. He survives the season and then morphs into a different being during the playoffs.”

15. Marian Hossa has come a long way from his Playoff Final flub days. Now he has a winning record, 3-2.

16. The last time Chicago clinched The Cup at home (1938) their coach, Bill Stewart, also was a National League baseball umpire.

17. P.S. Stewart got fired early in the next season.

18. This win automatically makes Coach Q a better coach than Mike Babcock; if he wasn’t already.

19. Take a good look at the Cup-Winners because they won’t be back next June. No team wins two Cups in a row these days. If you don’t believe me, ask the Los Angeles Kings.

20. Chicago won the Ref Derby in Game 6. There were three penalties to Tampa Bay and none to the Blackhawks after two periods. Considering that we’re talking about two clean teams that margin defied credulity. Chicago should have been hit with three minors, minimum, in the third period. That’s carrying the “Let ’em play” philosophy too far. Zebras waited ‘way too long to call one late in the third with Chicago up 2-0. Bush!

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21. Stamkos could not buy a goal in Game 6. Bad luck, maybe. Except when a sharpshooter has the goalie down and doesn’t lift it over his pad; shame on Stamkos. Especially since the score was 0-0 at the time.

22. Easterners who haven’t had the pleasure of watching Duncan Keith until now certainly can understand why he won the Conn Smythe Trophy.

23. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I can’t find a single player to dislike on Chicago. The Blackhawks don’t even have a goon. Ditto, Tampa Bay.

24. I guess that explains why goons are rapidly going out of style.

25. When a top-scoring team, such as the Lightning, can’t manufacture a single goal in Game 6, what does that tell you? Tells me how good Chicago has been when it comes to defense, goaltending and — oh, yeah, I almost forgot — coaching.

26. The better team won; the more likable team lost. No more, no less.

27. Blackhawks also have the best jerseys.

28. After getting the Cup, captain Jonathan Toews handed the Large Mug to Kimmo Timonen which was a nice, sentimental gesture.

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29. But Timonen did little to win The Cup. If I was Toews I’d have handed it off to the man most responsible for the triumph, goalie Corey Crawford.

30. Bottom Line: It was as good a Cup Final as I could imagine. Two evenly-matched, well-coached teams and a series that was as keenly competitive as they come. Nice going, Blackhawks. Good try, Bolts!