The one similarity jumps out right away: the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins, this year’s Stanley Cup finalists, took care of their respective conference work in pretty efficient fashion.
But that’s not the only category in which these two are close. When it comes to goaltending to defense to scoring outbursts, the Blackhawks and Bruins are very well matched, indeed. And those similarities, including the great franchise history they each possess, should make this one tremendous Cup final.
“It's a special couple places, the tradition of the Bruins and the Hawks is special,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I'm sure, you know, the rivalry could return instantly come Game 1. I think it's good for the league and it's good for hockey; two great hockey markets. We're very excited to be a part of it.”
Every hockey player says his team’s toughest test comes in the Cup final. There’s no doubt that’s true for this one. For the Bruins, who smoked the Pittsburgh Penguins in four games, they’re facing a Blackhawks team that has the stellar defense and goaltending Pittsburgh lacked. For the Blackhawks, they’re up against a Bruins squad that is as physical and goaltending savvy as the Kings, but has much more offensive punch.
“They’e got big D; big, physical D,” said Bryan Bickell, who has eight postseason goals. “I think the way we approach this series, we have to do it the next. Hopefully we go from there.”
Playing the very physical Kings may be a precursor for what the Blackhawks will face against Boston regarding that category. But as we said before, it goes beyond that for the Bruins. They held a usually goal-happy Penguins team to just two goals in their Eastern Conference Final series. Two. In four games. And the Bruins can score. David Krejci and Nathan Horton have been two of their top performers, with 21 and 17 points, respectively.
“They’re a fast team as well. They’re a great team, and that’s why they got there, why they eliminated some unbelievable teams in the East,” Andrew Shaw said. “We have to prepare for war.”
The Blackhawks and Bruins are pretty even in the mental fortitude category, too. The Blackhawks’ reaction to adversity has been well documented in this space, from coming back from that 3-1 deficit to the Wings to getting past that Mike Richards goal with 10 seconds remaining in Game 5 regulation last night. The Bruins had a 3-1 first-round series lead over Toronto and lost it, then trailed the Maple Leafs 4-1 with about 10 minutes remaining in Game 7 and won it.
There will be plenty more to talk about regarding these two teams in the next few days, many more quotes from each on the other. Each has had their memorable moments, their near-heartbreaking defeats and their comebacks. Throw in two fabulous cities and two rich traditions, and you’ve got yourself a series.