The Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins face off for the Stanley Cup for the first time, each on a serious roll. Chicago has won seven of eight since being behind 3-1 in the Western Conference Semifinals against Detroit. Boston has won nine of 10 dating back to their miraculous three-goal comeback in game seven of the first round against Toronto. Boston has won six Stanley Cups with the last coming just two years ago, while Chicago has won four including a win just three years ago.
It has been a playoff year marked with ‘Original Six’ matchups. This will be the fourth. In addition to the Chicago/Detroit and Boston/Toronto series, the Bruins also met the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The ‘Original Six’ is a sacred term in hockey that refers to, as you might guess, the original six franchises in the NHL before the historic expansion of 1967. The Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, and Toronto Maple Leafs comprise the Original Six. The last Stanley Cup Final featuring two of the Original Six was Montreal over N.Y. Rangers, 34 years ago.
In goal for the Blackhawks is first-time finalist Corey Crawford. A career backup, Crawford has gotten his chance and not let go of it. He is susceptible to the occasional soft goal, and we cannot know how the brighter lights of the Final will affect him. Between the pipes for the Bs is Tuukka Rask. Like Crawford, this is his first time as a starter in the Final. But Rask has the flair for the dramatic and spectacular.
The defense crews are excellent. Chicago is fronted by Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, with Boston it begins and ends with Zdeno Chara. A mountain of a man, Chara is difficult to go around and impossible to go through. He also has the hardest shot in hockey if he can let one go on the power play.
Offensively, Chicago is led by Patrick Kane and captain, Jonathan Toews. Kane compiled a hat trick in the conference-clinching win over the L.A. Kings. Toews is the heart and soul of this team, wearing his heart on his sleeve. His teammates tend to follow his example. For Boston, David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron are the ones to watch. Krejci leads the league in points this playoff year and Bergeron just scores huge goal after huge goal.
Chicago went the first half without a regulation loss and has carried that momentum through. Boston faded a bit down the stretch but has picked it back up in the postseason. Most observers believed it would come down to these two teams all year, and it has. Chicago is the favorite, but Crawford is a concern. If he can hold up and make the saves he is supposed to the ‘Hawks should win. In what could be a classic series, I will take Chicago in seven.