For the first time since 1991 the Hawks are in the Stanley Cup finals. It's been 49 years since the Hawks have held the Stanley Cup, the longest current drought in the NHL. It's been one hell of a ride, and players and fans alike owe it to one of the most clutch skaters in the league: Dustin Byfuglien.
Byfuglien has eight postseason goals, but the timing of his goals come at the best moments for the Hawks. Out of the four wins against the Sharks, Byfuglien had three of the four game winning goals, in games One, Three, and Four.
Byfuglien has yet to produce the amount the Hawks and the staff had hoped he would in the regular season, but during the postseason, Big Buff steps up his game to a whole new level, and now for two years straight, has become a major, clutch goal-scorer for the Hawks.
In Game One Big Buff received a pass from Patrick Kane, shot it from the middle of the ice, ten feet in front of the blue line. The puck shot pass Shark goaltender, Evgeni Nabokov, lighting the red light behind the goal and setting of the horn. The goal would be the game winner, giving the Hawks a 1-0 series lead.
Game Three was the most intense game of the series, going into overtime with the score tied at two. Early in the overtime, the Sharks tried to clear the puck but were denied by Hawk defensemen Brain Campbell who shot the puck back behind the net. Hawk forward Dave Bolland picked the puck up from behind the back of the net, and covertly passed to a wide open Dustin Byfuglien who put the puck in the net before Nabokov even realized Buff had the puck.
Buff was the hero, again, putting the Hawks up 3-0 in the series, almost guaranteeing them a spot in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Game Four started off terribly for the Hawks, as they found themselves down 2-0. The fans weren't worried that a loss Sunday would mean doom, but you could tell they wanted them to sweep San Jose at home. Before you knew it the Hawks were climbing back, tying the game late in the second with a Dave Bolland goal.
The stage was set. Buff came through, yet again, putting the Hawks up 3-2 with a powerplay goal 14 minutes into the third period. The United Center erupted. Throughout the whole playoffs, Buff has come up with huge goals. Not only in the San Jose series, but the Vancouver one as well, scoring a hat-trick.
This is exactly what a team needs in the playoffs: a player that steps up his production and contributes more than what is asked of him. Dustin Bygulien has done exactly that.
Hockey, just four years ago, was irrelevant in Chicago, but now the hockey vibe is back to a city that always wanted to love hockey. The Hawks are only four wins away form giving their fans the dream that had been hoping for since 1961: A Stanley Cup Championship.