The way these playoffs have unfolded so far, we’d be foolish to put anybody in the next round based on two games, right?
And, as distasteful as it might be to see that piece of carcillo, plus Hartnell and the Flys’ ninth-string goalie play for the Cup, and as much as we might even be rooting for San Jose, there would be something very cool about having the Blackhawks (and 20-Cent) in the final.
They’ve been there before, obviously, but they haven’t won a Cup since 1961, the longest drought in the NHL. They were in the finals in ’62, ’65, ’71 and ’73 — all as the Black Hawks, before the name was changed to one word.
And they’ve been to one final since ’73.
You know, of course, that the other finals appearance for the Blackhawks had some bearing on the Rangers’ 1994 Stanley Cup, right?
Because that 1991-92 Blackhawks team was coached by Mike Keenan, who would get himself bounced out of Chicago soon after. While in Chicago, Keenan developed an affinity for certain players: Steve Larmer, Stephane Matteau, Greg Gilbert, Brian Noonan and Mike Hudson — all of whom would pied-piper him to New York for the Cup season.
Something else you might recall about that ’92 year. That was Mark Messier’s first season in New York, and Adam Graves’ first. And the Rangers won the Presidents’ Trophy (after a brief strike threatened the end of the season and the playoffs). And it was also the year of the second-round debacle against defending champion Pittsburgh, where Graves broke Mario Lemieux’s hand (and was disgustingly reviled as a thug/hit man by ignorant fans and media members across the continent) and where Mike Richter let in the Ron Francis goal from center ice, etc., and where the skids began to be greased for Roger Neilson’s firing in the middle of the next season.
Anyway, to get back to the ‘Hawks … they won 11 straight playoff games before the final. But they ran into a healed Mario and Jaromir Jagr and Tom Barrasso and Francis (not to mention Kevin Stevens and Ulf Samuelsson), plus Scotty Bowman. After the Rangers had taken a 2-1 lead in that second-round series, the Pens reeled off 11 straight wins themselves, including a sweep of the ‘Hawks in the final.
Today’s trivia: Name Chicago’s two goalies in the ’92 final.