Ranking the Chicago Blackhawks Stars' 2013 Playoff Performances
The Blackhawks feature a bevy of big-time performers who paved the way to another Stanley Cup Final appearance. Chicago's roster includes some of the top offensive playmakers in the NHL and an emerging standout netminder.
These players have taken turns rising to the occasion during a memorable postseason run, reaching the league championship series for the second time in four seasons. The Blackhawks own 13 playoff victories at this point, each win providing plenty of highlight material for the squad and its stars.
As Chicago looks to lock up a title, here's a peek at the postseason journey. We review and rank the top individual performances that have lifted the team along the way.
5. Marian Hossa Denies Detroit a Chance to Close out Western Semis
Hossa, who is tied for the team lead with 15 points in the postseason, continues to play at an elite level in his 13th playoff appearance. The veteran catalyst has accumulated 112 points in his postseason career and changed the team's dynamics when he arrived in 2009.
The 34-year-old helped lead the charge in a comeback effort against Detroit in Western Conference semifinal action. Chicago fell behind 3-1 in the series before roaring back with three straight wins.
Hossa totaled four points in the three victories. His most impressive performance occurred on the road in Game 6, when he scored a goal and dished out an assist in a thrilling 4-3 win.
As usual, Hossa energized his team when it needed him the most. Chicago didn't allow Detroit to close things out at home and forced a deflated Red Wings squad to return to the Windy City for Game 7.
4. Jonathan Toews Helps Slam Door on Defending Champs
The Blackhawks captain has been predominately quiet in terms of offensive production during the postseason. Toews, who tallied 29 points during the 2010 title run, owns just one goal in these playoffs.
However, we've come to expect consistency from the 25-year-old center in other capacities. He provides an exceptional defensive presence on the ice and his leadership is apparent even if you don't see the 'C' that's sewn into his jersey.
Toews was a force in the two-overtime close-out Game 5 against Los Angeles. He threw his body around with tenacity throughout the contest, clearly intent on ending the Kings' championship reign without having to return to California for Game 6.
Toews set up two goals, tying his top assist mark of this postseason. He found teammate Patrick Kane for the game-winner, punching the Blackhawks' ticket to another Stanley Cup Finals.
3. Patrick Sharp Provides Answer Against Upstart Minnesota
The veteran center missed more than a month of action during the regular season after suffering a shoulder injury. After returning for the final few weeks of April, Sharp immediately showed the importance of his presence in the playoffs.
The 31-year-old tallied five goals in five games against Minnesota in the first round. The Wild threatened Chicago early in the series, taking the conference's top seed to overtime in Game 1 and winning Game 3 in overtime, but Sharp provided an answer.
He scored twice in a pivotal 3-0 win in Game 4. Minnesota held home ice in the contest and threatened to send an even series back to Chicago until Sharp stepped up and provided the Blackhawks with a sizable cushion.
It was his second two-goal effort in a three-game span, and he added another score in Game 5 as Chicago closed out the Wild. Following a scintillating start to postseason play, Sharp has scored four goals in the past 12 games.
2. Corey Crawford Keeps Boston off the Board in Three Overtime Frames
Crawford began the playoffs with a 5-8 career playoff record, viewed by many as Chicago's potential weak link. He's responded with stellar play, tallying a 1.72 goals-against average through 19 games.
More than six weeks of sensational performances have stacked up, but his Stanley Cup debut stands above the rest. Crawford kept Chicago alive for more than 52 minutes of sudden-death overtime action against Boston in a Game 1 showdown for the ages.
Though he did surrender three scores in regulation, Crawford was a rock in the extra sessions. The 28-year-old stonewalled Boston on repeated scoring opportunities, providing his teammates with more time to work toward a win.
Crawford completed the marathon matchup with 51 saves, emerging as the winning goaltender in the fifth-longest Stanley Cup Final game. Few would refer to Crawford as a weak link these days.
1. Patrick Kane Caps off Hat Trick with Series-Ending Score
Patrick Kane continues to play the role of Mr. Clutch in Chicago. The 24-year-old right winger, who scored the Stanley Cup-clinching goal in 2010 against Philadelphia, ended the 2013 season for the defending NHL champions.
Kane netted the game-winning goal against Los Angeles in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. The decisive score occurred in double overtime, completing a hat trick for Kane and propelling the Blackhawks to a 4-3 victory.
The former No. 1 overall draft pick now has 43 total points in Chicago's two recent Western Conference championship runs. He led the team in points. goals and assists during the regular season.
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