1. Chicago Blackhawks v 4. Boston Bruins
The 2010 Stanley Cup winner Blackhawks take on the 2011 Stanley Cup winning Bruins in this year’s Stanley Cup final in the only East v West game in this lockout shortened season and the first Original Six final match up since 1979 when the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers squared off.
Chicago have been the best team in the league all year and a Stanley Cup win would round off one of the best season in NHL history. Star players Jonathon Toews and Patrick Kane have started to come into form in the playoffs after slow starts. Kane scored a hat trick in the Blackhawks 4th win over the LA Kings in the Western Conference final. Chicago played three elimination games in Round 2 as they knocked out the Detroit Red Wings in 7 games. Since losing the third game to Detroit the Blackhawks are 7-1.
Boston were minutes from elimination in Game 7 of round 1 against the Toronto Maple Leafs when losing 4-1 with just 8 minutes remaining but they managed to claw their way back, winning in Over Time. Since that game they are 8-1 in wins over the New York Rangers and the highly fancied Pittsburgh Penguins, sweeping the Penguins being a particularly impressive and surprising achievement.
Both goaltenders, Blackhawks Corey Crawford and Bruins Tukka Rask, were backups when their sides last won the Stanley Cup but both have impressed in the playoffs, Rask’s 2 goals against in the Pittsburgh series being the most noteworthy. As always goaltending will be very important over the series.
Both sides are well equipped to win the big cup and both go into the Stanley Cup final in great form. Both have a chance to stamp their authority on this era as they both have won the cup in recent years. It makes for a great series between two original six sides.
Verdict: Chicago Blackhawks in 6