I still have a pretty pessimistic view of how this season ended for the Ducks. I certainly don't think they can be considered one of the elite clubs yet, and I don't really think they've taken a huge step toward that status. As we get further and further from Game 7, I'm starting to be able to look back and say they could have taken that step into elite-hood with one or two more OT goals, but the fact of the matter is, they didn't. The biggest difference between this year and last is that they came up against one of the truly elite teams one round later. So here's a little bit about why the Chicago Blackhawks are just about as close as we'll see to a Dynasty in the salary cap era.
The whole, Hawks only playing four D-men story was way overblown in this series because you are some kind of robot and/or alien. Clearly one of the top three defensemen of this generation, along with Drew Doughty and Shea Weber, I said it in one of the recaps, but I really think you should start to be considered in the same breath as a Niklas Lidstrom or Scott Nidermayer. These are ridiculous minutes you're playing, but you can handle them because of the skating and passing style you play. For a quick comparison you've averaged 31:35 TOI/GP this playoff, in 2007 Scott Niedermayer averaged 29:51. Not only that, but I would consider your minutes more difficult because Brent Seabrook is good, but he's not Chris Pronger good, and Corey Crawford is good, but he's not 2007 J.S. Giguere good. You're far and away the front runner for the Conn Smythe to add to an incredible collection of hardware you've already got.
Your performance in the WCF almost has to rank you second behind Keith for Conn Smythe consideration. I said it all series long, if Toews gets to producing we'd be screwed. You did in Games 5 and 7 and we were. Also, nice captain-ing on the Clarence Campbell Bowl presentation. That's definitely the way to go, acknowledging the team accomplishment of winning the Western Conference but keeping enough distance to show that the real goal is still ahead.
Dude, you killed us all series. I'll be honest, I knew you were a good player before the series, but for some reason every time I heard your name I could only picture Andrew Shaw's face (which I'll get to next), but not anymore. The combination of power and speed you have makes you just a breakaway machine. The only way to stop you was to hook/hold/slash and that came back to bite us in Game 7. Well done, I'm sure you'll get paid crazy money this summer, I hope it's via offer sheet and I hope it's by the Ducks (even though I know it won't be).
When i did the pre-series Q&A with Second City Hockey I talked about Corey Perry being a player you hate to play against but would love to have on your team, and compared him to Patrick Kane. What I should have said is Corey Perry is what would happen if you and Kaner had a baby. I just want to punch your little face, and I mean that in the best possible way. Also I think headers should count too.
The man who put it all together. Dale Tallon got all the credit for the 2010 team (rightly so), but to take that core and rebuild a consistently contending team around it the way you did is something special. I mean, you were one overtime Game 7 goal away from three consecutive Stanley Cup Finals for Teemu's sake. This summer may be another one like that 2010 sell off, but I have no doubt with you at the helm and that core in place, we'll be seeing Chicago in the WCF or SCF again soon enough.