The 2013 NHL season started late, but it sure finished strong. From the end of the lockout in January, to Jonathan Toews lifting the Stanley Cup in late June, take a look back at the most memorable moments of the season.
From the end of the lockout in January, to Jonathan Toews lifting the Stanley Cup in late June, take a look back at the most memorable moments of the season:
Depending on your level of optimism, the season began about three months late... or 10 months early.
The lockout layoff didn't seem to affect two teams that established themselves as Stanley Cup contenders by setting records for consecutive wins. The eventual champions in Chicago picked up points in 24 straight contests before the Pittsburgh Penguins also went on a tear of their own. No, not picking up veteran players for the playoff run -- we'll get to that later -- but winning 15 straight games.
On the flip side, there were some notable slumps to begin the season, with two players in particular that drew plenty of criticism for their slow start.
Toronto sniper Phil Kessel scored his first goal 11 games into the season, and as you can see, his teammates were happy to have their star forward on the scoreboard:
It may be hard to remember now, but the 2013 winner of the Hart and Rocket Richard trophies was also on the list of early-season duds. Alex Ovechkin and his Capitals struggled mightily until catching fire and winning the Southeast Division:
The two bright spots from this terrifying play were that Staal eventually suited up in the playoffs and the incident also may encourage more players to wear a protective visor. The league and players' association agreed to grandfather in the mandatory protection at a spring meeting.
If we're talking injuries, the Ottawa Senators seemed to have half their AHL team playing for them at times this season as the likes of Jason Spezza, Erik Karlsson, Milan Michalek, Craig Anderson, Jared Cowan, and the team's Zamboni (OK, just kidding about that one) were all out for extended periods of time.
Before we accuse Pittsburgh of hoarding, consider that they're all free agents now (aside from Jokinen). And maybe that's a good thing for the Penguins, since the team was swept by the Boston Bruins in the East final.
There's no way the Senators' Paul MacLean could have coached a team so decimated by injuries into the second round of the playoffs if there was just one of him, right? He should probably share his Jack Adams Trophy with this guy:
Speaking of coaches, the shortened season was expected to grant bench bosses some leeway, but there were some job losses in the coaching fraternity: Lindy Ruff (Buffalo), Ralph Krueger (Edmonton), Glen Gulutzan (Dallas), Alain Vigneault (Vancouver), and John Tortorella (New York) got their pink slips in 2013.
Don't feel bad for Bobo
The newly Rick Nash-less Blue Jackets narrowly missed the playoffs, and their late run towards what would've been only their second trip to the post-season was due to the stellar play of goalie Sergei Bobrovsky:
His remarkable season (2.00 goals-against average, .932 save percentage, four shutouts) earned the Russian netminder the Vezina Trophy.
Thanks for stopping by, Toronto!
While the Detroit Red Wings made their 22nd consecutive appearance in the playoffs, their former Norris Division counterparts, the Toronto Maple Leafs, finally killed their playoff appearance drought at nine years.
Leafs fans, happy just to be there, let their hopes and dreams rise to spectacular heights in Game 7 of the first-round series against the Bruins... only to have them absolutely crushed, maimed and destroyed in the third period:
Of course, the Maple Leafs can still hold their heads high in Canada. They picked up three more playoff wins in 2013 than the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets did. Those teams failed to qualify for the playoffs, whereas the Vancouver Canucks did make it to the big dance, only to be swept by the San Jose Sharks.
I may be a walrus, but don't call me fat
The first round featured an all-Canadian series between the Montreal Canadiens and the Ottawa Senators, which had arguably the biggest hit of the playoffs:
The Habs' Brandon Prust was no fan of that hit, nor of the Ottawa coach's explanation:
That phrase launched another curious campaign in Ottawa, proving that the national capital may also be the capital of NHL memes and meme-inspired t-shirts.
After their historic rally against Toronto, the Bruins went on to steamroll the Rangers and Penguins on their way to the Stanley Cup final, drawing inspiration from their city's rallying cry of "Boston Strong," which resonated across the sports world after the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15.
The Bruins even had bombing survivor Jeff Bauman wave their banner during a pre-game ceremony:
The Bruins and Blackhawks were the final two teams fighting it out for the Stanley Cup, and as you may remember (since it happened on Monday), the 'Hawks outlasted the Bruins thanks to a two-goal flurry with less than 90 seconds left in Game 6:
Enjoy your hockey holiday -- training camps open in three months! Winter Olympics training camp in two!
Justin PiercyOriginally from Fredericton, NB, Justin has worked in newsrooms for Astral Media Radio, Brunswick News Inc., the Toronto Star and CTV. But now he's here at CBCSports.ca to report on the sports you care about while also showing you stuff from the internet he thinks you might like.