CHICAGO — The Blackhawks won their third championship in six seasons by beating the Tampa Bay Lightning in six tight games in the Stanley Cup Final.
But Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews and teammates said Saturday the Anaheim Ducks were a tougher opponent than the Lightning. Chicago topped Anaheim in seven games in the Western Conference finals.
“Anaheim had so many components of the game,” Toews said. “The physicality, the speed, the skill of the top-end players like the (Ryan) Getzlafs and (Corey) Perrys we ran up against. They were such a tough team in goaltending and all aspects.
“That’s the series that stands out to me in the last number of years as far as the challenges.”
The Blackhawks rebounded from a 3-2 series deficit against Anaheim, which finished first in the Western Conference regular-season standings, with wins in the final two games to advance to the Stanley Cup Final. Three of Chicago’s games against the Ducks went to overtime, including a triple-overtime 3-2 victory in Anaheim in Game 2 that was the longest contest in Blackhawks history.
Forward Andrew Desjardins, who joined Toews in a panel discussion at the team’s annual convention, agreed.
“It was the hardest hockey I think I’ve ever been part of,” Desjardins said.
But beating the Lightning wasn’t easy. The first five games of the Finals were decided by one goal before Chicago prevailed 2-0 in the clincher.
“No disrespect to Tampa because I think they far exceeded our expectations for what they were able to do and how difficult they made things on us,” Toews said to a packed hotel ballroom.
The crowd of about 2,000 gave Toews a standing ovation when he walked on stage and cheered often during a preview of the team’s Stanley Cup video.
Some of the loudest applause occurred during clips of forwards Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad, who were traded in the past weeks as general manager Stan Bowman wriggles the team under the NHL’s $71.4 million salary cap.
Thumbnail photo via David Banks/USA TODAY Sports Images
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