Silverman: Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks The Third Greatest NHL Team Of All-Time
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By Steve Silverman-
(CBS) If you want to give the Chicago Blackhawks their due, it’s not enough to say they merely joined the list of President’s Trophy winners who also took home the Stanley Cup.
That’s an excellent achievement and the Blackhawks became the first team since the 2008 Detroit Red Wings to accomplish the feat. More often than not, the President’s Trophy winner gets stunned like the Vancouver Canucks did last year with a first-round loss or suffers a defeat somewhere along the way.
The Blackhawks became the 40th team in NHL history to have the best regular-season record and also come away with the Stanley Cup. But that doesn’t begin to tell the story.
The Blackhawks had the third-best record of those President’s Trophy winners who hoisted the cup.
The Blackhawks were 36-7-5 in the regular season, a record that earned them 77 points and an .802 winning percentage. The only teams to compile a better winning percentage were the 1977 Montreal Canadiens (60-8-12, .825) and the’78 Canadiens (59-10-11, .806).
Let that sink in a minute. A credible case can be made for the Blackhawks having the third-best team in NHL history. We’re not going to say they were as good or better than those Canadiens’ teams. They were led by Guy Lafleur, Larry Robinson and Ken Dryden and they were almost certainly the best team the game has ever seen.
But the Blackhawks did more than any of Wayne Gretzky’s explosive Edmonton Oilers teams or Mike Bossy’s overpowering New York Islanders teams.
In addition to ranking so high on the President’s Trophy/Stanley Cup-winning list, the Blackhawks made the record book for their 24-game streak without a regulation loss at the start of the regular season.
They can also crow about their ability to defeat one of the strongest runner-ups in Stanley Cup Final history.
The Bruins had won the Stanley Cup in 2011 and that gave them credibility heading into this year’s final series. However, they had also swept the favored Pittsburgh Penguins and held them to two goals in the Eastern Conference Final.
The Penguins were everybody’s Stanley Cup favorite and they would have been the glamour team if they had faced the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final. The Blackhawks undoubtedly would have found a way to smother Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, much the way the Bruins did.
The Blackhawks cemented their place in history with their epic series against the Bruins. Three games of the series went into overtime and the Blackhawks won two of them.
As head coach Joel Quenneville said, the Blackhawks saved their best for last. They murdered the script the Bruins had written that would have forced a seventh game tomorrow night in Chicago.
Instead, they sent it to rewrite as Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland scored 17 seconds apart to give the Blackhawks the fifth Stanley Cup in team history.
“We had a great start this year and a great finish,” Quenneville said. “We had a lot of big moments in between. We did things that nobody could have envisioned.”
They are the 2013 Chicago Blackhawks. The third-greatest team of all-time.
Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman was with Pro Football Weekly for 10 years and his byline has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Playboy, NFL.com and The Sporting News. He is the author of four books, including Who’s Better, Who’s Best in Football — The Top 60 Players of All-Time. Follow him on Twitter (@profootballboy) and read more of his CBS Chicago columns here.