You could blame Cristobal Huet for the Game 4 disaster, but he really had no help in the Detroit Red Wings' 6-1 rout of the Blackhawks. Still, not many people were confident with Huet heading into Game 5. After all, he was the number-two goalie for a reason behind Nikolai Khabibulin. Yet with Khabi's injury, in came the big free agent aquisition. And man, did he show up.
His 21 saves in the first period set the tone and kept the game scoreless. He continued to make tough saves, all the way up to the end of the third, saving the season temporarily for the Hawks with an extended pad save on Johan Franzen with a little over 20 seconds remaining. In total, he stopped 44 of the Wings' 46 shots. Yet, it was still not enough to overcome the defending champions. Detroit is headed back to the Stanley Cup Finals with a 2-1 overtime win.
Patrick Kane finally lit the lamp, and it could not have come at a better time. He tied the game with a thrilling rush down the ice and a backhand past Chris Osgood. With Kane's goal and Huet's sparkling play, you saw some more of what could be an exciting future. There is a chance Khabi will not be back with the Hawks. This would make Huet the number-one goaltender for Chicago. Kane will continue to lead Chicago along with the rest of an exciting core of young talent.
This season could be described as a resurgence. Now that they have a fan support again, they will look to continue building the franchise. They reached the conference finals pretty quickly with this group, and the question is can they repeat, or even better, win their first title since 1961?
It will be hard, but some other Central Division team has made it look relatively easy. Detroit is the team to beat, and the Hawks and Wings will continue to see a lot of each other. For now, it is the Red Wings and Penguins in the Stanley Cup for the second straight year.
At some point, we may have a change of the guard atop the conference. Yet, for now, Detroit can celebrate again. We'll see what happens next year for the Chicago Blackhawks.