After 5 periods of hockey, the Chicago Blackhawks have eliminated the reining Stanley Cup Champions; The Los Angeles Kings in 5 games. The Presidents Trophy and Campbell Conference Trophy winners will face the Boston Bruins in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday June 12 at 8:00 PM (EST).
This is the first time in the long and rich history of these two teams that they have ever had to face one another in the Stanley Cup Final. These two teams however have faced each other before, the last meeting was the 1974-75 NHL playoffs when the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins faced each other in the long forgotten Preliminary Round which the Hawks took 2-1. This also marks the third occasion so far this post-season that the Boston Bruins have had to face an original six team and a team they haven’t played since the mid 1970s.
As stated, the last time the Bruins played the Hawks was 1975, and these two teams are obviously much different then the two that played in 1975. But the one thing that will stay the same through this playoff series as it has since the start of the playoffs; Goalie vs Goalie , Top Line vs Top Line. Currently the Boston Bruins have two players in the Top 5 playoff scoring leaders. Numbers 1 and 2 are spots owned currently by David Krejci and Nathan Horton with 21 and 17 points respectively. The Chicago Blackhawks have 3 players with 14 points all tied for 6th in the league. The Boston Bruins offence out played the offence of the Pittsburgh Penguins during Games 1 & 2 scoring 9 goals in the two games combined, yes everything sort of slowed down for Games 3 and 4 and it became a goalie vs goalie battle, but since the 5-2 win over the Rangers in Game 2 of the Semi-Finals the Bruins have found a very dangerous offensive spark that helped in the slaying of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Can the KHL (Krejci – Horton – Lucic) line and the Bergeron line handle the likes of Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews, and Marian Hossa? Yes, and they are gonna do exactly what they did to the top line of the Penguins, grind them down. The Bruins might have not been the front runner on hits in the series putting up only 97 hits to the Penguins 150 but those 97 hits were big and they hit to hurt. The Boston Bruins forced a lot of turn overs and played a much harder shut down game than the Penguins defense could. The Bruins could definitely do the same thing to the Hawks because their two-way play is the best in the league and can easily be a deciding factor in this series.
The other story line was goalie vs goalie, Tuukka Rask pulled his best 2003 J.S Giguere impression only allowing 2 goals for a final GAA of 0.44 and a .985 SV%. Tuukka Rask played absolutely out of this world amazing, and got a lot of help from his defense this time around (SEE: Net front scramble at the end of Game 4). Corey Crawford hasn’t been no slouch either, posting a respectable 1.82 GAA and a .927 SV%. His defense has also done a very good job around him, of course when people aren’t up in his face. The two goalies are incredible, but the one thing that differs Crawford from Tomas Vokoun is that Crawford is a starting goalie, so elite play should be expected right out of the gate. Neither of these two goalies are gonna make this easy and every night they will give their team a chance to win.
One storyline that everyone will focus on come Game 1 is Jaromir Jagr‘s return to the Stanley Cup Final against the last team he won it against. He’s had to face 2 of his former teams so far this post-season and now faces the very same team he helped sweep back in 1992, nearly 21 years ago. Jaromir hasn’t been tearing up the goal column in these playoffs, but his inspiring work ethic and presence alone has given him 7 points in 16 games and has had his name next to some pretty important goals (Game tying goal against Toronto in Game 7 and the 2OT Goal against Pittsburgh in Game 3). But this is a great time to bring up a huge glaring point that seems to be missed by everyone, Jaromir Jagr is not the same player that skated on Mellon Arena ice when he “deked the whole world” 21 years ago. He really shouldn’t be expected to tear up the league goal scoring column in the post season and he should not be expected to do what he did to Brent Sutter all those years ago every night. Yes he has moments where he hangs on to the puck too long and yes he has moments where it seems like he tries a little to hard to set something up, but it’s that work ethic that has been an inspiration to the whole team. Since coming to the team the KHL line has been pulling out some of Jagr’s tricks as of late, especially Krejci and Lucic. Their overall hockey sense has improved and they’ve been a dominating force all playoffs, same goes for the Bergeron line. Both Marchand and Bergeron have been developing a stronger attitude and have been all around fantastic players.
Can the Bruins defeat the Blackhawks, on paper yes.. but the ice is a different story. Ready the Madhouse, because here come the Bruins.