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Stanley Cup Preview: Blackhawks vs. Bruins

Posted on 12. Jun, 2013 by in NHL

After a long and tumultuous year, the NHL has finally returned to relative normalcy as fans anticipate this year’s Stanley Cup Final featuring the Chicago Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins, two of the Original Six members of the National Hockey Association. Both of these teams have hoisted the cup in recent seasons, with the Blackhawks winning the title in 2010 and the Bruins securing the cup the following season. The Blackhawks and Bruins have to consider themselves lucky to be in this position, because the season almost didn’t happen. The owners locked out the players for several months, and negotiations became very contentious. Ultimately, the players and owners reached a deal, but not after already missing nearly half of the season, making the beginning of the season particularly challenging for some teams.

However, Chicago was not one of those teams, as they got off to the hottest start in NHL history. The Blackhawks did not lose in regulation until the 25th game of the season, earning points in 24 straight contests. They did not slow down much for the rest of the regular season, finishing with a final record of 36-7-5, winning the Presidents’ Trophy in the process. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane combined to form one of the top scoring duos in the league, and few defensemen in the league are more effective than Duncan Keith. Despite the regular season success, the Blackhawks ran into some major problems against Detroit in the conference semifinals, falling behind 3-1 before winning three straight and keeping their season alive. They have since knocked off the defending champion L.A. Kings, and enter the Boston series with fresh momentum. Kane, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp each notching 14 points through the first three rounds of the playoffs. Most impressively, goaltender Corey Crawford has been superb during the postseason, posting a stellar 1.74 goals against average.

The Bruins road to the Finals was not as easy as the Blackhawks, but they arguably enter the matchup as the hotter team. Boston got off to a great start but cooled off considerably in April, and nearly lost their first round matchup with the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, they have been on a roll since that series, dispatching the Rangers in five games before knocking off Eastern Conference favorite Pittsburgh in a four game sweep. Tuukka Rask has been the hero of the postseason for the Bruins, as his 1.75 goals against average is just percentage points behind Crawford. Center David Krejci has been phenomenal this postseason as well, as his 21 points and nine goals lead all playoff scorers. The Boston defense, led by the ever-imposing Zdeno Chara, will make life very difficult for Toews and Kane. The series figures to be one of the best in recent memory, as both teams enter the series with great momentum, hot goalies and recent experience lifting the Cup.

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