The Chicago Blackhawks have shown they can win even when their biggest stars aren’t lighting up the scoreboard.
Depth pays off, and this is the reward.
The Blackhawks are three wins from their second Stanley Cup championship in four years after taking a 4-3 triple-overtime thriller from the Boston Bruins in Game 1 on Wednesday.
It didn’t matter that their biggest stars were largely quiet. They got enough from their secondary players to escape with the victory and land the first blow in this Cup clash between Original Six franchises. Game 2 is Saturday night in Chicago.
“I think the whole year it’s been the depth that drives this team through the record and through the great regular season and obviously in the playoffs,” Chicago center Michal Handzus said. “Obviously, our top guys are
leading and they’ve been great, but you need to have depth.
“It’s better for them to feel that if they don’t score, they’ll still have help from the bottom guys. The depth was one of the reasons why the regular season was very good for this team and one of the reasons why we are in the finals.”
That depth helped propel the Blackhawks to the Presidents’ Trophy for finishing the regular season with the most points.
The Bruins, meanwhile, hope to get forward Nathan Horton back for Game 2.
Horton, who was sidelined for the last part of the 2011 Final by a concussion after a hit by Vancouver’s Aaron Rome, left the series opener against Chicago with an unspecified upper body injury, but he practiced Friday and appears to be on track to play in Game 2.
“We’ll have to make a decision on him tomorrow,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “It was encouraging to see him out there today. If he feels good tomorrow, he’s in the lineup, simple as that.”
If he plays, Horton would join David Krejci and Milan Lucic on Boston’s top line.
Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith played 48 minutes, 40 seconds in the triple overtime game, the most among skaters. Keith averaged 24:06 during the regular season.
“It’s almost expected out of him,” captain Jonathan Toews said. “You know he’s going to log a lot of minutes and he’s going to be out there in every situation and he never fails.”
Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg (48:36) logged the most ice time for the Bruins.
Toews won the Frank J. Selke award, given to the NHL’s best defensive forward. ... In other awards, Boston center Patrice Bergeron won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy for leadership and humanitarian contributions; Ottawa’s Paul MacLean won the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year; Tampa Bay forward Martin St. Louis won the Lady Byng Trophy for most sportsmanlike player for the third time in four seasons; and Minnesota goalie Josh Harding won the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for his perseverance and dedication for playing with multiple sclerosis. ... Forward Drew Miller agreed to a three-year, $4.05 million contract to stay with Detroit.