Did I grab your attention with the thought of a Stanley Cup Finals rematch between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins? Or did you think I meant the game that will be played later tonight at the TD Garden? Well if you chose either of the two you are in the right place my friend! For anyone else who has crossed paths, go ahead and read on, you may learn something interesting.
It would not surprise me to see these two teams facing off once again during the 2014 NHL Playoffs. I recently had thought about the possibility of a rematch after seeing the Boston Bruins win 12 straight games, which also helped the Chicago Blackhawks regain the second position in the Central Division. Even after the NHL realignment took effect this season and a new playoff format will be used for the first time in a while, the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins will only face each other in the Stanley Cup Finals, if they both can make it there. The Bruins have seen the departure of both Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley from an offseason trade with the Dallas Stars that brought Loui Eriksson and Reilly Smith to the team. On the other side, due to the salary cap issues after winning the Stanley Cup, the Blackhawks are no longer using the services of Dave Bolland, Daniel Carcillo, Michael Frolik, or Viktor Stalberg. While management has put trust in their entry draft selections, the Blackahawks have seen the emergence of young talent in Marcus Kruger, Andrew Saad, Andrew Shaw, and Ben Smith. They all were drafted over the past several years and most recently we got the chance to see Chicago’s 19 year-old first round selection, Teuvo Teravainen, who made a solid debut. We should also get a chance to see him develop through the playoffs because Coach Q has already used him in some tight situations during his first start, showing that he had trust in his young player. He was out on the ice for today’s afternoon practice skating as the sencond line center so he should be in the lineup again tonight.
The Blackhawks and Bruins are deep in skill on the roster and they bring several similarities to the ice when compared to one another. Both of these teams have a solid core of defensemen who bring not only defense to the table but also the double threat of scoring from the point. You can never forget about Zdeno Chara and his 108.8 mph slap shot but the same goes for the Blackhawks one-two punch of Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith. On the offensive side of the puck you may arguably have the two best centers to face off, with Patrice Bergeron & Jonathan Toews winning the Selke Trophy respectively in 2012 & 2013. A teams goalies are considered one of the most intangible assets for any team in the league as we saw in the 2013 shortened but high octane season. It was the maturity of both Corey Crawford and Tuka Raask which was displayed during the 2013 NHL Playoffs. This is also true of both goalies play recently down the home stretch. They both currently rank in the top 10 in almost every category that is important. We all know the playoffs are a long battle and you have to play top tier like that if you expect to make it to the championship series.
Tonight will be the first time the Chicago Blackhawks are visiting the TD Garden since their 3-2 Game 6 Stanley Cup victory over the Bruins. You all probably remember the stunning 17 seconds scenario where the Blackhawks scored 2 goals at the closing moments of the 3rd period. If not type in “17 seconds” into Google and you will see. I will guarantee tonight the fans, coaches, and players who stuck around still have that bitter taste in their mouth. I will also guarantee they will not be holding anything back with a lock in the playoffs already. The Bruins now will be playing for advancement in standings and points so they can potentially gain home ice advantage in the first two series. The Blackhawks on the other hand need to grind out just 1 more point to lock a playoff spot for the 6th consecutive season.
Be sure to watch the rematch tonight at 7:00 PM on NHL, CSNC, NESN. You never know this might also be the rematch of the Stanley Cup Finals! LET’S GO HAWKS!!!