Ranking the Chicago Blackhawks' 5 Best Highlight-Makers in the Last Decade
When a team secures two Stanley Cup championships in the last five seasons and reaches the Western Conference Final in a third season, there's going to be no shortage of highlights.
The Chicago Blackhawks are loaded with stars who have provided highlight-film plays in each of their Stanley Cup runs, and while four of the top five highlight producers are still with the team, one departed shortly after the team brought home the sport's top prize in 2010.
Here's a look at the top five highlight producers over the last decade.
(Reminder: These are not the Blackhawks' five best players, just the producers of some of the most memorable moments.)
5. Dustin Byfuglien
Dustin Byfuglien's career with the Blackhawks came to an end shortly after the team brought home the 2010 Stanley Cup by beating the Philadelphia Flyers.
While the team would add a second Stanley Cup in 2013, the earlier victory brought the Blackhawks their first championship since 1961 and set off huge celebrations throughout Chicago.
Byfuglien was not the most consistent player during his five years with the Blackhawks, but he was a huge contributor on the road to that Stanley Cup. He scored 11 goals and five assists during the Stanley Cup run, and five of his goals were game-winners.
Byfuglien had many highlights during that postseason, but two of the biggest are featured on the video above. At the 3:46 mark, Byfuglien blasts Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger into the boards with a huge shoulder check in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. The hit was significant because Pronger was Philadelphia's most physical and intimidating player, and Byfuglien turned the tables on him with that legal hit.
Byfuglien was a monster in the Western Conference Final sweep that year against the San Jose Sharks. He scored the game-winning goals in Games 1, 3 and 4, and the goal that decided Game 3 and gave the Blackhawks a stranglehold on the series came in overtime. Byfuglien cruised down the slot, picked up a loose puck (4:35 mark) and fired it by San Jose goalie Evgeni Nabokov.
Despite his Stanley Cup heroics, the Blackhawks were in deep salary-cap trouble and were forced to part company with Byfuglien shortly after the Stanley Cup celebrations started to die down.
4. Bryan Bickell
Bryan Bickell is a hockey enigma.
He is clearly an underachiever in the regular season, but he turns up his game significantly in the playoffs. Bickell has been one of the Blackhawks' biggest difference-makers in the last two playoff years.
He was quite remarkable throughout the 2013 Stanley Cup run. Bickell scored nine goals and eight assists in 23 postseason games. His biggest goal came in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins.
The Bruins were leading 2-1 on a late goal by Milan Lucic, and it looked like the series would go back to Chicago for a decisive Game 7. However, the Blackhawks would not allow that to happen as they scored two goals in 17 seconds to clinch the Stanley Cup in Boston.
Bickell scored the tying goal in that sequence as he positioned himself in front of the net, took a perfect pass from Jonathan Toews and slammed the puck between Tuukka Rask's legs (video above). Bickell ignored the pressure of the moment, went to the net and capitalized on his opportunity.
Blackhawks fans may grow frustrated with Bickell during the regular season—he has never scored more than 17 goals—but they love him for his big-play ability in the postseason.
3. Jonathan Toews
Jonathan Toews is the Blackhawks' best all-around player and perhaps the most complete player in the NHL. Once you get past Sidney Crosby, it's difficult to say that any player means more to his team than Toews means to Chicago.
He has been one of the key architects in the Blackhawks two Stanley Cup championships. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy when the Blackhawks won the title in 2010, and even though he was not as statistically proficient in the 2013 Cup triumph, he contributed mightily.
Toews made the pass to Bickell that tied up Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, and he also made the play that set up the clinching goal in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final against the Los Angeles Kings.
Toews and Patrick Kane broke in on the Kings on a two-on-one shortly after the midpoint of the second overtime. Toews had the puck on his stick (video above) as he sped in on Jonathan Quick. He froze Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi and then fed Kane with a perfect pass. The Blackhawks' other gold dust twin had no trouble firing the puck by Quick for the series-winning goal.
Toews was in top form in the 2014 playoffs. While the team got stopped by the Kings in the Western Conference Final, Toews scored nine goals and eight assists throughout the postseason, and four of his goals were game-winners.
2. Brent Seabrook
Brent Seabrook is not a perfect defenseman. He makes mistakes in the defensive zone and often has to be bailed out by partner Duncan Keith.
However, Seabrook is a star player who has stepped up in the postseason.
He had two signature moments in the 2013 Stanley Cup run. The biggest may have been the seventh-game overtime goal (video above) he scored against the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Semifinal.
Seabrook's wicked wrist shot rescued the Blackhawks after the team found itself in a 3-1 hole through four games. The Blackhawks were on the brink of being upset in the series, but they rallied with victories in Games 5 and 6.
They appeared to take a late lead in Game 7 on a Niklas Hjalmarsson slap shot, but that goal was waved off because of a disturbance away from the puck. The Blackhawks appeared deflated and vulnerable after that ruling.
However, Seabrook picked up the puck in the neutral zone early in overtime and skated in on Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard. He twisted a wrister at the 3:35 mark that beat Howard high to the glove side, and the Blackhawks survived and advanced (video above).
He scored another overtime winner in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Bruins. With Boston leading the series 2-1, the Bruins would have put the Blackhawks in another 3-1 hole if they had scored in overtime.
However, Seabrook fired a point shot by Rask at the 9:51 mark of overtime, and the Blackhawks won the game and tied the series. Seabrook proved he had a rocket of a slap shot and he used it at the right time in that game.
1. Patrick Kane
Patrick Kane has proven to be one of the best clutch players in the NHL, and he is perhaps the Blackhawks' most revered player in the history of the franchise when it comes to scoring big goals.
The biggest was the one that ended their 49-year Stanley Cup dry spell. It occurred in overtime of the sixth game, when Kane wristed a shot past Flyers goalie Michael Leighton at the 4:06 mark (video above). Since the puck lodged itself under the goal's apron, nobody but Kane knew that the puck had gone in the net. While the response was muted at first, the goal touched off a wild celebration on the ice in Philadelphia and in Chicago.
Kane has had a number of series finishers in overtime. He scored the double-overtime winner in Game 5 of the Los Angeles Kings in the 2013 Western Conference Final, and he did the same thing to the Minnesota Wild in Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinal this year.
Additionally, Kane scored the first two goals in the Blackhawks' 3-1 victory in pivotal Game 5 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final against the Bruins. That win broke a 2-2 series tie and gave the Blackhawks the lead in a series that they would seize in Game 6.
Kane's quickness, assertiveness and skill make it "Showtime" nearly any time he has the puck on his stick in a clutch moment in the playoffs.