10 reflections from a crazy Stanley Cup playoffs | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in Canada10 reflections from a crazy Stanley Cup playoffs

Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 | 02:34 PM

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Patrice Bergeron's injuries in the Stanley Cup final were worse than initially reported. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) Patrice Bergeron's injuries in the Stanley Cup final were worse than initially reported. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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What did we learn from this year's title run from the Chicago Blackhawks and the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs? Plenty. Here are 10 matters to digest.
Everybody has had a couple days to catch their breath from that wild and crazy end to the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs.

What did we learn from this year's title run from the Chicago Blackhawks? Plenty. Here are 10 matters to digest and discuss.

1. The news on Boston Bruins centre Patrice Bergeron and the serious nature of the injuries he dealt with late in the Stanley Cup final against the Blackhawks were even worse than first thought.

The Bruins announced on Wednesday that in addition to a broken rib, torn rib cartilage and separated shoulder that Bergeron endured in the Stanley Cup final, he also suffered a pinhole puncture in his lung. He has been in hospital recovering since the end of Monday's finale and that was news to some of his teammates.

Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli said that the small puncture in Bergeron's lung was believed to have happened after the game. Whether or not that is true, the Bruins medical staff and decision makers immediately came under fire for letting Bergeron play in the finale.

But before this criticism gets out of hand, these players and medical personnel are experts. They know what injury has occurred and what the risks are. They make informed decisions and we should respect that.

"I didn't know he was back in the hospital," Bruins forward Milan Lucic said. "But just his willingness to play in that game and to leave it all out there is really impressive.

"Playing through what he played through and his will to win, that's why he's basically won every trophy a guy can win, that's why he's one of our main leaders on this hockey club. He's shown how important of a player he is.

"It was pretty inspirational to see him suck it up and play Game 6, and I think that's why we had such a great start. Hopefully he can get some much-needed rest here and heal up his injury 100 per cent too, so he's ready to go next year."

2. No lead is safe.

Remember last year's Stanley Cup final between the Los Angeles Kings and New Jersey Devils, when the team that scored first wound up winning each of the six games?

This post-season was different. Not only did the Bruins overcome a three-goal deficit against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 7 of the first-round series, the Bruins helped seal their fate in the final when they surrendered a 3-1 lead in the third period of Game 1 of the final and allowed a 2-1 advantage to turn into a 3-2 deficit in the final 86 seconds of the Stanley Cup series finale.

In the final, the team that scored first won three of the six games. It wasn't so predictable.

Chicago's Dave Bolland, by the way, scored the latest Stanley Cup-winning goal in regulation time in NHL history with 58.3 seconds left. The previous record was Boston's Bill Carson in 1929, when he scored at the 18:02 mark of the third period in a 2-1 win over the New York Rangers to sweep the best-of-three series.

3. Probable unrestricted free agents Bryan Bickell of the Blackhawks and Nathan Horton of the Bruins generated plenty of conversation during the playoffs. But teams in need of a top-four defenceman or leadership may want to take a look at Bruins defenceman Andrew Ference or rental Jaromir Jagr.

At 41, Jagr has lost a step and his goal scoring has declined. But if you have a team ready to win, he would be a good addition not only for what he can do on the ice but what he can do for the dressing-room atmosphere. Bruins coach Claude Julien and his players raved about Jagr's demeanour and personality.

Ference, 34, may have played his best hockey in this playoff run. He and defence partner Johnny Boychuk were very dependable. Ference is not the most physical blue-liner, but he is smart, blocks shots and can be a valuable special teams guy.

4. Did we learn anything in terms of who will play goal for Canada at the Olympics in eight months?

Absolutely not. I know Blackhawks netminder Corey Crawford received a lot of love for his play, and he deserved it. But I'm still not sold on the Montreal native. He's a big netminder who is a blocker. I like a more athletic type, like potential unrestricted free agent Mike Smith.

For me, it's still a wide-open race. Crawford, Smith, Carey Price, Roberto Luongo, Braden Holtby and even 41-year-old Martin Brodeur will be watched closely. And don't be surprised if there is an unexpected Canadian goalie to emerge in the first three months of the season.

5. Centre will be a position of strength for the Canadian Olympic team.

After the play of Jonathan Toews, Sidney Crosby, Logan Couture and Bergeron this spring, the Canadian Olympic team will have no worries at centre. All four were solid this spring. I wonder if the 24-year-old Couture may find himself on the wing.

By the way, I would also like to see Julien added to the coaching staff as a replacement for Jacques Lemaire.

6. Does Brad Marchand deserve serious consideration for a roster spot on the Canadian Olympic team?

Okay, so he didn't score a goal or chip in with an assist in the final. But the superpest has an underrated amount of skill and a tremendous amount of speed. He also can kill penalties. 

So I say yes to giving him a look. He was under control in the playoffs. He had only 21 penalty minutes in 22 games, including a fighting major for a late-game scuffle with Chicago's Andrew Shaw in Game 3. I see him in similar role to the one Theo Fleury played with the 2002 team.

7. Can the Blackhawks repeat?

There hasn't been a repeat winner in the NHL since the Red Wings turned the trick in 1996-97 and 1997-98. This off-season will be shorter than usual because of the lockout. So is there enough recovery time?

I don't see why the Blackhawks can't end that 15-year wait for a repeat champion. Other than a serious back injury to Marian Hossa and a knee injury to Bickell, they are relatively healthy. They also are in a much better salary cap situation than they were in the off-season following their 2009-10 championship.

They have 21 players under contract and $2.09 million US in salary cap space. Besides Bickell, the other unrestricted free agents include: Michal Handzus, Viktor Stalberg, Jamal Mayers, Michal Roszival and goalie Ray Emery. The key restricted free agents are Marcus Kruger and Nick Leddy.

So Chicago general manager Stan Bowman may have to jettison a key player to open up some salary cap space. But they can still get by if they are willing to allow Bickell to walk and sign a couple young, cheap players to fill out the roster.

8. Power-play success doesn't matter in playoffs.

The Bruins won in 2011 with an ineffective power play. So did the Kings a year ago. The Blackhawks went 1-for-19 in the final, while the Bruins were better at 4-for-18.

Conclusion? It's five-on-five play that matters. In the tight final, Chicago outscored Boston 16-11 in five-on-five play.

9. Who am I the happiest for to have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup?

That's an easy one: Blackhawks assistant coach Mike Kitchen. When I began covering the Toronto Maple Leafs and the NHL on a semi-regular basis in 1992-93 for the Toronto Sun, I will never forget how nice, helpful and classy Kitchen and Mike Murphy were as assistant coaches with the Maple Leafs to this then rookie NHL reporter.

I hope nobody caught my unprofessionalism when I shook Kitchen's hand on the ice after the Stanley Cup had been awarded and gave him a hug on Monday. Kitch, have a wonderful celebratory summer.

10. Who will win the Stanley Cup next year?

It's way too early to know. We still have the compliance buyout period to play out, trades in and round the draft, and free agency. Also, what effect will the new coaches have in Edmonton, Vancouver, Colorado, Dallas and with the New York Rangers? Still, here are Stanley Cup odds from bodog.ca:

  • Pittsburgh Penguins 13/2
  • Chicago Blackhawks 15/2
  • Boston Bruins 9/1
  • St. Louis Blues 12/1
  • Los Angeles Kings 14/1
  • Vancouver Canucks 14/1
  • Detroit Red Wings 16/1
  • New York Rangers 16/1
  • San Jose Sharks 16/1
  • Anaheim Ducks 20/1
  • Toronto Maple Leafs 25/1
  • Washington Capitals 25/1
  • Montreal Canadiens 28/1
  • Carolina Hurricanes 33/1
  • Edmonton Oilers 33/1
  • Minnesota Wild 33/1
  • New York Islanders 33/1
  • Ottawa Senators 33/1
  • Philadelphia Flyers 33/1
  • Colorado Avalanche 40/1
  • Columbus Blue Jackets 40/1
  • Nashville Predators 40/1
  • New Jersey Devils 40/1
  • Tampa Bay Lightning 40/1
  • Winnipeg Jets 40/1
  • Buffalo Sabres 50/1
  • Calgary Flames 50/1
  • Dallas Stars 50/1
  • Phoenix Coyotes 50/1
  • Florida Panthers 100/1

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