The Chicago Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins will face off tonight in Chicago in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final opener.
The Blackhawks overcame a 3-1 series games deficit in the Western Conference Semi-Finals against the Detroit Red Wings while the Bruins scored three times in nine minutes (including two goals in the final two minutes with their goalie pulled) to force overtime in Game Seven of the opening round of the playoffs against the Toronto Maple Leafs before eventually winning, 5-4 in OT in what has to be considered one of the biggest collapses ever in NHL history.
Led by massive sized captain Zdeno Chara, a defenseman and goalie Tuukka
Rask, the Bruins have been the top defensive team in the post-season.
They just swept the mighty Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals, allowing just two goals in four games.
Boston has solid defense and Rask allows just 1.75 goals against average with a 94 percent saves percentage. Top scorers for Boston include David Krejci (nine goals and twelve assists to lead the league in post-season scoring), Nathan Horton (seven goals and ten assists), Brad Marchand (4,9) and Milan Lucic, who has scored three times to go with ten assists.
The Hawks counter with four scorers in the post-season Top Ten category with Patrick Sharp (eight goals and six assists), Marion Hossa (7,7), Patrick Kane (6,8) and Bryan Bickell, who has scored eight goals and five assists to this point.
Goaltender Corey Crawford has been stellar with a goals against average of 1.74 and boasts a 93 percent saves percentage. Duncan Keith anchors a solid defensive unit, which has been outstanding in the penalty killing area.
All in all, it should be a hard fought and exciting Finals between two of the Original Six teams as the Hawks seek their second Stanley Cup title in four seasons. The Bruins won it all two years ago and have been on fire with a 9-1 record after going to a Game Seven in Round One against Toronto.
The Blackhawks are rolling too, having beat the defending champion LA Kings in five games after the huge comeback series against Detroit. Overall, Chicago is 12-5 in the playoffs while Boston is 12-4 entering the Finals.
The outcome could come down to the "home ice" advantage (or not) with the series going at least six games and more likely the full seven games.
PREDICTION - CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS OVER BOSTON BRUINS IN SEVEN GAMES.