The Bruins-Blackhawks Stanley Cup Final will begin on Wednesday at 5:00 PST on NBC, CBC and RDS. This is the first time that original six teams have met in the Finals since 1979, when the Montreal Canadiens defeated the New York Rangers in 5 games to win their 4th Stanley Cup in a row. Chicago and Boston have not faced each other in the playoffs since 1978. That was an opening round series that the Bruins won. So this series has beauty to it in that it is a rarity. The Bruins and Hawks have never met in the Finals before. Never. Original 6 teams. Never.
The last time these guys played against each other was October 15, 2011:
Yea, Tim Thomas was an excellent goaltender. But Tuukka Rask was waiting in the wings to get his shot and he got it after Timmah decided to go on a sabbatical, or whatever the f*** he did.
I see many of you want a napalm death to occur before this series even starts. I don't quite blame you in the sense that of all the god damned teams to play in the Finals...how the hell are Canucks fans supposed to watch this? My answer: for the same reason that you look when you drive past a car crash. If you are bitter to the point of tuning out this series so be it. But you are going to miss an excellent exhibition of NHL playoff hockey.
I like the angle many have to pull for Chicago in that they will play a less goonish style and play a more skilled style of hockey with a smaller roster on average to succeed, as this benefits the current Canucks' status as a hockey team and its direction that was taken. The Bruins are labelled as a bunch of goons who break the rules to the point of the refs just giving in and not calling penalties on them because they obstruct that often. I tend to agree with that stance however....historically as the NHL Playoffs have gone on the refs tend to put the whistles away. It is what it is. NHL general managers need to adjust to this. If you think the refs are going to change their stance I am willing to wager you are a fool. Don't worry. The Canucks will adapt as the "reset"...just in time for the rules to change again.
Anyways....here are some stats to chew on.
|5-2||ROAD RECORD / HOME RECORD||9-1|
||GOALS PER GAME AVERAGE||2.76 (6)
||GOALS AGAINST PER GAME AVERAGE||1.94 (3)
|1.77 (1)||5 ON 5 GF / GA||1.44 (2)|
|15.6 (10)||POWER PLAY %||13.7 (12)|
|86.5 (6)||PENALTY KILL %||94.8 (1)|
|56.0 (1)||FACEOFF WINS %||47.0 (14)|
|240 (3)||ROAD HITS / HOME HITS
|256 (2)||BLOCKED SHOTS||217 (5)|
|65 (14)||MINOR PENALTIES TAKEN||73 (16)|
Don't get all hopped up on the Bruins' futility on the power play. That is not their bread and butter, and was not in 2011 either. 5 on 5 is the key for both teams, as Chicago is surprisingly not all that hot on the PP either. Both have killed penalties effectively and 5 on 5 the two teams are near deadlocked. But hey, it's the Stanley Cup Finals. Anything can happen.
Chicago has home ice to start the series, because they dominated all shortened season long. It will be interesting to see, given that these 2 teams rarely play against each other, how much of a feeling out process there will be. It's one thing to watch the video, but it all can change when they hit the ice.
Corey Crawford has played 17 games so far, has a 12-5 record, 1 shutout, 474 shots against, a 1.74 goals against average, and a .935 save percentage. To say he has blossomed over the past couple years is an understatement.
For the Bruins: David Krejci has 21 points in 17 games. Nathan Horton has 17 points in 16 games. Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand have 13 points in 16 games. Krejci and Horton lead the Bruins in goals scored with 9 and 7 goals scored respectively.
Tuukka Rask has played 16 games, has a 12-4 record, 2 shutouts, 527 shots against, a 1.75 goals against average, and a .943 save percentage. Pretty close to Crawford's stats, but has faced a lot more rubber.
Look at those rosters..who do you think will win it all?The Bruins shut down and frustrated the hell out of Malkin and Crosby last round. If they shut down Toews and Kane and Sharp in this round well then at least the Hawks have Hossa and (surprise surprise BICKELL) to add extra scoring. Hawks coach Joel Quenneville has decided to take out Viktor Stalberg, who has 3 assists in 15 playoff games this year, and inserted the bigger Brandon Bollig who has only played small minutes in 3 games. Yea, this series is going to have a nasty edge to it.
I think that it's in Chicago's best interest to simplify their game and play uber defensively. If they have Seabrook, Keith or Oduya pinching in to score too often the Bruins will make them pay. Boston loves to sit back and wait for those mistakes and are very well at taking the puck away. Chicago has done that too, but I just think the Bruins are better at it.
Jaromir Jagr is 41 years old. He is still playing well. Sure, he doesn't have any goals in the playoffs, but he has 7 assists, including one on the series winner against the Penguins. Putting a dagger in his old team's heart. I enjoyed that. It almost makes me forgive him for ever being a Penguin in the first place. The last time Jagr was in the Stanley Cup Finals, he was doing this:
Damned Penguins. Against a Chicago team I really liked. But how about that horn after the goal? Sweet! Hell of a goal though. That was 1992. The Penguins won back-to-back Cups in 1991 and 1992 with stacked rosters.
Jagr is still protects the puck well, and it is hard to take it away from him. Kind of like Marian Hossa. This is Hossa's 4th Cup Finals appearance in 6 years. But nobody is laughing at Marian anymore because he finally won his first in 2010. Hell of a player.
Like I said before, these 2 teams don't play each other all that often. How about a classic Bruins-Hawks bench-clearing brawl from 1970?
-FYI, one of the greatest players to play the game, Bobby Orr only played for 2 NHL teams in his illustrious career: The Boston Bruins primarily and the Chicago Blackhawks. By the time he was traded to Chicago his knees were done and he retired soon after.
The Bruins have a history of being labelled "The Big Bad Bruins". They tend to stick to that motto and build their team that way. And yes, Brad Marchand does remind me of Ken Linseman. Don Cherry is right about that.
17 of the current Bruins were on the team that won in 2011. 9 current Hawks are still on their team from their 2010 Cup win. Isn't the salary cap a bitch? Kudos to them for getting back to the dance regardless.
Who will win? I am picking the Bruins in 6.