Playoff hockey isn’t for the faint of heart. We all know the intensity and physicality get ramped up in the postseason. After all, the Stanley Cup is on the line! Right now we’re in the midst of watching the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins duke it out in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final. There’s certainly no love lost between these two teams.
To cite just a few instances, we have the Blues’ Oskar Sundqvist’s boarding call on Bruins’ Matt Grzelcyk in Game 2 that led to a one-game suspension for the former and a concussion for the later. And of course there’s the constant shenanigans of Bruins’ Brad Marchand. How about St. Louis’ David Perron getting in the face of Boston’s goaltender Tukka Rask in Game 3?
These guys are all trying to intimidate each other and get the upper hand in any way they can. But let’s face it; they’re not unique. Teams go “all-in” as the playoffs progress. The Chicago Blackhawks have never really been known as a physical team, but they too have their fair share of playoff adversity. Let’s take a walk down memory lane as we revisit some of these Blackhawks’ playoff rivalries.
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Bolland vs. the Sedins
Back in 2011 Dave Bolland was a noted instigator who played for the Blackhawks. He caused quite the stir when he called out Henrik and Daniel Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks during a Chicago radio interview. The interview took place during the regular season, but the Hawks and the Canucks had faced each other in the playoffs the previous three seasons. At the time it was quite the rivalry.
Bolland publicly insulted the twins by calling them the “Sedin sisters”.
“And, yeah, they probably still would be sisters. I think they might sleep in, like, bunk beds. The older one has the bottom one, the younger one’s got the top,” he said. Bolland further affronted the Canucks style of play with, “Typical, pulling hair and biting people. Sort of like a little girl.”
Bolland wasn’t exactly being a gentleman when he made these statements. Of course he was trying to get into the heads of the Canucks; especially the Sedins. All’s fair in love and hockey.
Sharpy Shares, Marchand Taunts
Fast forward to the 2013 Stanley Cup Final between the Blackhawks and the Bruins. Patrick Sharp was one of the stars on that Blackhawks team. He’s since retired from hockey and is now enjoying a second career in broadcasting. Sharpy recently shared an instance from that infamous Hawks/Bruins series where Marchand got in his face.
Well, I guess you have to give credit to Marchand for trying. But here’s a case where it didn’t work out so well. Sharpy only had one “beautiful” kid at the time, “tired” Kane walked away with the Conn Smythe, and the Blackhawks took home the Cup.
The Wakey, Wakey Incident
Yeah, this didn’t exactly make the Blackhawks look good. Especially considering the recent attention given to head hits and CTE. Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith were pretty big jerks in this incident from the first round of the 2014 Playoffs against the Blues and David Backes. And if you watch closely, captain Jonathan Toews can’t contain a very slight smirk when he discusses it.
I’m sure Toews is right; this kind of stuff happens all the time out on the ice. Especially in the playoffs. Needless to say, Seabrook was rightfully charged with a five-minute major and a game misconduct, as well as a three-game suspension for his actions.
Withstanding the Hits
It was the 2015 Western Conference Final, with the Anaheim Ducks facing off against the Blackhawks. This was a hard fought seven-game series. The Blackhawks had faced some previous mileage, winning Cups in 2010, 2013, and going to the Western Conference Final in 2014. Ducks’ Ryan Kesler wasn’t wrong when he thought the Blackhawks were worn out.
“No human can withstand that many hits,” Kesler said. So the object apparently was to hit the Blackhawks hard and often to wear them down.
It turned out to be quite the physical affair on both sides. The Ducks doled out a total of 341 hits to the Hawks’ 234, which was a differential of 107 more hits for the Ducks. Kesler himself was credited with 34 hits throughout the series. (Statistics courtesy ofHockey-Reference.com)
But we all know by now the Blackhawks DID withstand that many hits. They ended up beating the Ducks and going on to defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning for their third Cup in six years.
Above are just a few examples in Blackhawks’ playoff history where the intensity of the battle brought out the worst in the players. It’s not always pretty. But this is the drama of hockey. And let’s face it; it’s part of what makes the game so fun to play and to watch.
For the Cup!