The 2012-13 virtual Blackhawks needed seven games to oust Detroit from… (Courtesy of EA Sports )
Meet your 2013 Western Conference champion Chicago Blackhawks!
Well, virtually, that is. The real Hawks haven't laced up their skates in eight months, due to the NHL lockout. In the meantime, RedEye has employed EA's "NHL 13" to simulate the season. But since the 113-day labor mess ended Sunday and a shortened season begins soon, we thought we'd show you how the virtual Hawks fared—including their improbable run to the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Hawks had a blazing start, going undefeated in their first eight games and 12-4-1 after 17, but hit rough patches midway through. The Hawks finished 44-31-7, good for second place in the Central Division and earned the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
Unsurprisingly, the first round against Detroit was a hard-fought battle. The Hawks managed to go up 3-2 in the series but dropped Game 6 in overtime. To the rescue in Game 7 was 21-year-old defenseman Nick Leddy, who notched two goals (his only tallies in the playoffs) in the deciding victory.
The second round didn't get any easier. Against Edmonton, the Hawks lost the first three games in the series. But they toughened up and won the next four, including a 4-2 victory at home in Game 7.
St. Louis provided a bit of relief during the Western finals. The Hawks beat the Blues four games to one behind Jonathan Toews, who racked up four goals and three assists in the series.
The Hawks had no miracles left in the Stanley Cup Finals against Toronto. The Blackhawks took Game 2 at Toronto but lost the rest, largely because of the red-hot play of Maple Leafs star Phil Kessel, who had two game-winning goals in the series.
Ryan Smith is a RedEye special contributor.
Now we can hand out some imaginary hardware
MVP: Marian Hossa
The veteran winger was third in the Western Conference in points with 76 and was named an All-Star starter. Hossa also led the Hawks in goals with 30 and assists with 46.
MOST DISAPPOINTING: Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp
Toews and Sharp, both key parts of the Hawks' attack, missed a combined 85 games because of a series of injuries.
UNSUNG HERO: Viktor Stalberg
With Toews and Sharp on the shelf for half of the year, Stalberg stepped up with 24 goals and 24 assists in 79 games and led the team with a plus-21.
MOST IMPROVED: Michael Frolik
In his third season with the Hawks, Frolik more than doubled his offensive output. He earned 34 points in the regular season and had a big playoff series against Detroit.
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