For the first time since 1979, two of the original six NHL teams will be vying for the Stanley Cup. Due to the lockout, these two teams haven’t faced each other at all this season. Chicago blazed to one of the best starts in league history, opening the year going 21-0-3. If you don’t follow hockey, that’s an amazing streak, lockout or not. Chicago handily took the Presidents’ Trophy, awarded to the team that finishes with the best record, and will be looked at as the favorite, despite being pushed to the brink of elimination by Detroit in a seven-game series.
Boston had their own hurdles to overcome, having also been pushed to a Game 7 versus Toronto in the first round. Playing just a couple of weeks after the Boston Marathon bombings, the Bruins rode a wave of emotion to victory after nearly blowing a 3-1 advantage in that series.
This is also the first time that these two “Original Six” teams have faced each other in the Stanley Cup Final. Considering that both of these teams are over 80 years old, that’s kind of amazing. From a fan perspective, watching two of the longest-tenured teams face each other for all the marbles should provide some quality hockey.
The Blackhawks will be primed and ready to face the Bruins after dispatching the defending Cup Champions, Los Angeles Kings, in five games. Chicago forwards Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, and Patrick Kane will be the ones to watch for the Blackhawks, as will goaltender Corey Crawford. Brent Seabrook has been strong on the blueline all year, and was a difference maker in the Detroit series.
Boston’s road to the Final has been similar to that of Chicago, having survived a tough 7-game series with Toronto to open the playoffs. Perhaps what should most make Windy City fans nervous is the relative ease that the Bruins eliminated the 2009 Champion Penguins and powerhouse players Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The play of David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Milan Lucic, and even veteran Jaromir Jagr, make this Boston team a formidable obstacle for Chicago to overcome. Tuukka Rask has been standing on his head between the pipes, and the 6’9″ frame (close to 7′ if you count the skates) of defenseman Zdeno Chara will make carrying the puck into the offensive zone problematic for the Hawks.
One other interesting note about this years’ final four NHL teams – they were also the last four Stanley Cup champions.
It’s also tough for me to write with a lot of enthusiasm for either of these teams – I’ve got my own favorites, Colorado and Washington. While Colorado is still going through the painful rebuilding process that began after their Cup in 2001, Washington yet again failed to get out of the playoffs starting gate, prompting one long-time fan to lament on Facebook that when he dies, he wants the Capitals to lower him into the ground, “…just so that they can let me down one last time.” I’ve come to accept that the Caps are the NHL’s answer to the Cubs.
This has the potential to be a very close, 7-game series. Game 7s are great for the game, so I hope to see it go that far. While most prognosticators are giving Chicago the nod, I will take Boston in 6 games. I think they will still be riding the emotions of the tragic events of the Marathon bombings all the way to the top, letting sports once again bring a healing salve to a whole city, right when it needs it.
What do you think? Who will win this year’s Stanley Cup? Vote in the poll below and feel free to comment as well.
Who will win the Stanley Cup in 2013?
- Boston in 6 (54%, 7 Votes)
- Chicago in 6 (38%, 5 Votes)
- Chicago in 7 (8%, 1 Votes)
- Boston in 4 (0%, 0 Votes)
- Boston in 5 (0%, 0 Votes)
- Boston in 7 (0%, 0 Votes)
- Chicago in 4 (0%, 0 Votes)
- Chicago in 5 (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 13