Scratched Blackhawks Get a Sniff of Stanley Cup Glory
Maybe taking that extra game off in the Western Conference finals put a bit more zip in their stride.
Then again, maybe Antoine Vermette and Teuvo Teravainen made mental notes that they didn't want coach Joel Quenneville to scratch them again.
The Finn forward is only 20 and a rookie, so he wasn't going to say anything. Vermette, though, was not amused.
A veteran of the NHL wars, the 32-year-old forward also isn't dumb. He couched his displeasure fairly diplomatically:
|It came as a surprise and a disappointment. I’m not going to lie. I was not happy with that. But my job is to be ready whenever I have a chance to be in the lineup, and that’s what I’m going to do.|
Dude's a man of his word, and Teravainen was right there with him when the rubber met the road -- an icy one, of course -- in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals:
This wasn't their first time in the spotlight since returning from Scratch Hell. After the Blackhawks' Game 2 triple-overtime loss to the Ducks put the pair in the stands for Game 3, Teravainen figured prominently in setting up Vermette's heroics in Game 4's double-overtime clincher:
Arguably, it's one reason why Chicago's season is still in progress.
Tampa Bay's vaunted svenska backar -- Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman -- held the Blackhawks' dynamic duo of Jeff Toews and Patrick Kane in check, so someone else had to step up. And Chicago's got a roster that's good at it.
The question is, can the Lightning keep forcing other Blackhawks into being headliners? That's no simple feat over the course of a best-of-seven series.
The Ducks can attest to that, too:
But the Lightning have been making a habit of comebacks. They get their next shot at it on Saturday.