Evaluating the Nominees for Blackhawks Play of the Year
How do the Blackhawks 2019 Fan Choice Awards Play of the Year nominees stack up against each other?
The Blackhawks are currently running their 2019 Fans Choice Awards, and one of the categories that caught my eye was the “Allstate Play of the Year.” As I was browsing the choices earlier today, I had a tough time choosing. Let’s run through them.
Keith’s Ridiculous OT Goal
This goal was one of pure will power. An overtime winner is always filled with excitement, but what made this one even better was the one-on-one defensive play Keith made on Nathan MacKinnon at the other end of the ice just seconds before this overpowering rush.
Keith’s victorious tally kept the Hawks mathematically alive for one more day late in the season, so this one is up there on the list of best plays of the year given the dire situation. My rank: 4.
DeBrincat’s Shootout Goal
Wow. What a move. Pure filth. DeBrincat put together a fantstic 2018-19 campaign, scoring 41 goals and adding 35 assists. From the looks of this highlight, he has become a major threat in shootout situations as well. Despite his handiwork and beautiful backhand finish on display here, a shootout move gets knocked down a couple of points on my scale if we’re considering the Blackhawks “best” play of the season. This isn’t the last time you’ll see the Cat on this list, though. My rank: 7.
Kane’s Backhander vs. Stars
It was only a matter of time before Patrick Kane appeared on this list. That backhander is so smooth you forget how difficult it actually is. While this strike past Ben Bishop is impressive, there’s another Kane moment that ranks even higher for me later on in this list. My rank: 5.
Gustafsson’s Winner in Minnesota
Erik Gustafsson had himself an excellent year from an offensive standpoint. He recorded 17 goals and 43 assists in 79 games, which made him the fourth-leading scorer on the Hawks. Despite shaky (to say the least) play in his own zone, he proved to be an effective weapon at the opposite end of the ice. This overtime winner at Minnesota was a fantastic representation of his ability to get the puck all the way through to the net from the point when many other defensemen struggled to do so. The clutch timing of this play elevates it on my list, but there are still more impressive plays to come. My rank: 6.
Toews Wins It vs. Vancouver
Alright, so I’ll give you the spoiler. I ended up voting for this play in the poll. Captain Serious put the team on his back, danced around the outside of Christopher Tanev on the backhand, pulled the puck to his forehand and roofed a beauty past Markstrom. This was a type of play from Jonathan Toews that reminded me of his 2009-10 level of elusiveness. This crafty move resulting in a game-winner at a time the Hawks needed to scrape up every point available also bumped this moment up on my charts. My rank: 1.
Alright, I may be biased in my ranking of this one because I was at this game with a couple of Pittsburgh fans. However, my personal connection to the moment doesn’t negate the fact that DeBrincat made a stellar play to enter the zone onside followed by a beautiful deke and top-shelf finish. The Cat is an extremely special player, and every moment like this has teams that passed on him in the 2016 NHL Draft shaking their heads. My rank: 3.
Kane Roofs One vs. Flames
The only word I can think of to describe this moment is NASTY. In fact, this goal inspired me to edit this video of Patrick Kane’s “nastiest” highlights from the season up to this point.
You see Kane looking up into the stands as he skates behind the net? He was looking right at his Dad, who he knew would be sitting right there. This guy’s swagger is just off the charts. He scores a ridiculous goal and follows it with a calm and collected but awesome celebration. You’re a wizard, Kaner. My rank: 2.
The Captain Dekes and Scores
This was an aesthetically pleasing shootout goal by the Captain. The looping route he took to the net makes for highlight-reel material. He got Lehner down and out so he could bury the backhand bid. Unfortunately, one of these moments had to come in last. As I had previously mentioned on DeBrincat’s goal vs. Buffalo, the shootout scenario knocks it down a few notches since we are considering the “best” play of the season. My rank: 8.
Once again, these rankings are just my opinion. If you have a different take, let me know. The playoffs are still great to watch, but I miss Blackhawks hockey like crazy. The Fan Choice Awards are a nice excuse to go back and watch some footage of my favorite team. Be sure to fulfill your civic duty and vote!
Featured Photo: Nuccio Dinuzzo/AP