The 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Finals begin on Wednesday, June 12 at 8:00 PM ET. The Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks will be facing each other in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in NHL history. This is pretty remarkable considering that both teams are a part of the original six in the NHL. This will also be the first Finals matchup between two original six teams since 1979. This year’s Stanley Cup Finals is already shaping up to be special and Game 1 has yet to be played.
The Boston Bruins finished 4th in the Eastern Conference during the shortened season and were almost ousted a long time ago. The Bruins blew a 3-1 series lead against the Toronto Maple Leafs in round one and were down 4-1 in the third period of Game 7. Boston stunned the Maple Leafs with three goals in ten minutes and won the game in overtime thanks to center Patrice Bergeron. It was one of the craziest comebacks in NHL history. After that, the Bruins made quick work of both the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins in back to back rounds. This is their second trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in the last three years. They won the Stanley Cup in 2011.
The Chicago Blackhawks were the NHL’s best team throughout the season. In fact, the team did not suffer a regulation loss until its 25th game of the season. After taking care of the Minnesota Wild in the first round, the Blackhawks struggled against the rival Detroit Red Wings in round two. They were down 3-1 in the series but completed the comeback in overtime of Game 7 on defenseman Brent Seabrook’s series clinching goal. Chicago then knocked off the defending champion Los Angeles Kings in five games in the Western Conference Finals. They are in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 2010 which is when they last won it all.
As you can see, each team had a scare in these playoffs: Boston in the first round against Toronto and Chicago in the second round against Detroit. A little luck has been on each team’s side.
As mentioned, this should be quite an interesting series. This will also be the first time the Bruins and Blackhawks have faced each other in almost two years: they last played one another on October 15, 2011. There could be a feeling out process between the two teams to start, as a result. Fans are in for a treat once it gets going, though.
Why the Bruins could win
Boston has been on a roll after their struggles against the Maple Leafs. They have been able to rest between series after taking care of the Rangers and Penguins in quick fashion. This is crucial in the playoffs, especially this year with so many games in a shortened period of time.
Boston’s top players (Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Nathan Horton, David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand) have been their best players. Goaltender Tuukaa Rask has been stellar in net.
Why the Bruins could lose
The Bruins have not gotten a lot out of their depth players. Gregory Campbell was their best bottom six forward (3 goals and 4 assists in 15 games) and he is done for the playoffs after breaking his leg against the Penguins. Chris Kelly (0 points in 16 games), Rich Peverley (1 goal, 0 assists in 15 games) and Tyler Seguin (1 goal, 3 assists in 16 games) have been downright awful. Boston will not win if they continue to struggle.
Why the Blackhawks could win
Chicago has gotten contributions from almost everyone in the lineup. Bryan Bickell, typically a third liner, has been a star in these playoffs with 8 goals. Star winger Patrick Kane is heating up at the right time with 4 goals in his last two games. Goaltender Corey Crawford has been impressive in net throughout the playoffs.
Why the Blackhawks could lose
Captain Jonathan Toews has struggled mightily. He only has 1 goal in 17 games thus far. Quite simply, Chicago will not hoist the Stanley Cup if his struggles continue.
Who will win the Stanley Cup?
The two teams are so evenly matched. There is one factor that could be the difference, though. The Red Wings possessed the biggest challenge to the Blackhawks and that is because they have two very good centers in Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Boston centers Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci (the leading scorer throughout the playoffs) have been great thus far and I think that they will take advantage of a struggling Toews and second line center Michal Handzus. Handzus has done a nice job for Chicago but Boston has the clear advantage here. Needless to say, this series will not be a quick one.
Boston Bruins in 7 games
Enjoy the Stanley Cup Finals. It should be a dandy.
Other source: http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/