Chicago Blackhawks: First Overall and the Stanley Cup Don't Go Hand in Hand
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Chicago Blackhawks: First Overall and the Stanley Cup Don't Go Hand in Hand

It is often said that a National Hockey League team that finishes first overall during the regular season has no energy left to make a run for the Stanley Cup. The Chicago Black Hawks somewhat fit into this role.

The National Hockey League’s Chicago Blackhawks are a prime example that a great regular season doesn’t always correlate to a great Stanley Cup playoff run and vice versa. Chicago entered the NHL for the 1926-27 season. The team has won four Stanley Cups in that time and has finished first overall on three occasions.

chicago blackhawks national hockey league nhl logoMost recently, the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2009-10 after finishing third overall in the NHL and second in the Western Conference. Back in 1933-34, when the team won their first Stanley Cup, Chicago finished second in the American Division and third overall in the nine team NHL. Four years later in 1937-38, with the league reduced to eight teams, Chicago finished third in the American Division and sixth overall. Even with a losing record during the regular season, the Blackhawks were able to capture the second Stanley Cup of their relatively short history.

In 1960-61, aided by Hockey Hall of Famers Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita and goaltender Glenn Hall, the Blackhawks played possum during the regular season, finishing well behind the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs in the six team league. When it counted, though, Chicago knocked off the Canadiens in the semi-finals and then the Detroit Red Wings in the finals to capture their third Stanley Cup.

However, on the three occasions when the Chicago Blackhawks finished first overall in the National Hockey League, they did not fare well in the Stanley Cup playoffs. It took 40 years before Chicago sat atop the NHL’s regular season standings. The team was led by the offensive power of Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Ken Wharram, Phil Esposito and Doug Mohns, all of whom finished in the top 10 NHL scorers. In 1966-67, the last year of the ‘Original 6’ era, the Blackhawks finished first but were taken out by the eventual Stanley Cup champions, the Toronto Maple Leafs, in the first round. Toronto took out Chicago in the sixth game at Maple Leaf Gardens to win the series.

Three years later, in 1969-70, Chicago finished first overall again. The Blackhawks swept the Detroit Red Wings in the first round but were then swept by the Boston Bruins in the semi-finals. The Bruins went on to defeat the St. Louis Blues in four games to capture the Stanley Cup.

It took two decades before the Blackhawks made it to the top again. In 1990-91, the team finished first with 106 points. The Minnesota North Stars would not be scared off and beat Chicago in the opening round, four games to two. Interestingly, Chicago shed 19 points the following season and went all the way to the Stanley Cup finals before losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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Comments (1)

Interesting read on the Blackhawks. Great job!

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