When the Chicago Black Hawks scored in the second overtime to eliminate the defending Stanley Cup champions the Los Angeles Kings, the stage was set for a Stanley Cup Finals featuring two “Original Six” teams. For those too young to know, the NHL consisted of only six teams until the league was doubled in 1968. The Black Hawks and the Boston Bruins were two of those six teams. Now, for the first time since 1979, two “Original Six” teams will meet for the right to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup.
The Bruins will be making their 19th appearance in the Finals and have won the Cup six times, the latest in 2011. Chicago won the previous year (2010) and will be in the Finals for the 12th time. Surprisingly, the two teams have never met in the Finals before. This will be the seventh time the teams have met in the playoffs; the last time was in 1978.
If statistics are an indicator, this series should go seven games and the over/under on total goals per game are four. Chicago goalie Corey Crawford has a 1.74 goals against average in the 2013 playoffs while the Boston goalie, Tuukka Rask, has a 1.75 goals against average. Voters are evenly split on who they think will win the Cup…50.74% think the Black Hawks will win it all, while 49.25% are pulling for the Bruins.
Boston head coach Claude Julien may need to rely on Rask a lot heavier than Chicago coach Joel Quennville will need to rely on Crawford. Whereas, the Black Hawks had two players among the top 15 scorers during the abbreviated season (Patrick Kane was 5th with 55 points and Jonathan Toews was 13th with 47 points), the Bruins’ leading scorer, Brad Marchand, was 44th.
Boston may rely on the leadership of 41-year-old Jaromir Jagr, who is seeking to etch his name on the Cup for the third time. He was a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins when they won the Cup two years in a row, in 1991 and 1992.
Neither team will be starting the goalie that led them to their recent Stanley Cup victories. Chicago had Antti Niemi between the pipes in 2011 while Boston rode the shoulders of Tim Thomas in 2010. The Black Hawks, winners of the 2013 President’s Cup for the most points during the regular season, will have home ice advantage in the series which begins on Wednesday. It should make some exciting theater in a season that was cut short by the lock out.