After 86 years, Blackhawks and Bruins face off in Stanley Cup final series
Original Six clubs Blackhawks and Bruins revive NHL nostalgia as rivals face off in historic clash
A Stanley Cup classic 86 years in the making hits the ice as the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks, two of the National Hockey League's charter clubs, face off in a best-of-seven final dripping with nostalgia and mystery.
The first Original Six showdown for Lord Stanley's famous silver mug since 1979 may harken back to the days before expansion, but despite their rich histories when the series opens tomorrow morning (Hong Kong time) in Chicago it will mark the first time the two storied franchises have clashed in a Stanley Cup final.
"The tradition of the Bruins and the Hawks is special," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "I'm sure, the rivalry could return instantly come game one.
"I think it's good for the league. It's good for hockey. Two great hockey markets."
Two of America's great sporting cities, Boston and Chicago have rarely crossed paths at any championship.
In fact, Beantown and the Windy City have only twice before met to decide a title, the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox in the 1918 World Series and the Bears and New England Patriots at the 1986 Super Bowl.
The Bruins and Blackhawks, however, are no strangers to Stanley Cup celebrations.
Chicago last hoisted the Cup in 2010 while the Bruins, winners in 2011, would like nothing more than to parade the treasured trophy through the streets of Boston that were left silent and empty following the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15.
Both Boston and Chicago enter the final on impressive rolls, the Blackhawks winners of seven of the last eight games and the Bruins winning nine-of-10, including a stunning sweep of the top seeded Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference final.
The cup final will also be a fascinating clash of styles, with the "Big, Bad Bruins" punishing, hit-anything-that-moves approach against the speedy Blackhawks' finesse and puck possession game.
There is no lack of offensive creativity on the Chicago bench with snipers like captain Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, who were among the top five in league scoring during the regular season with 23 goals apiece.
A solid Chicago defence is anchored by Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, while netminder Corey Crawford has the best goals-against average in the play-offs.
For all their reputation as a surly team that rely on intimidation, the Bruins line-up also features the play-offs' two leading scorers in David Krejci (nine goals, 21 points) and Nathan Horton (seven goals, 17 points).
But stopping goals, not scoring them, has been the foundation of Boston's play-off success.
The Bruins enter the final with the post-season's top ranked defence led by the giant Slovak Zdeno Chara and Finnish netminder Tuukka Rask, who posted two shutouts against the Penguins.
While the Blackhawks have the marquee names, the Bruins view themselves as a Band of Brothers, typified by fourth liner Gregory Campbell, who broke his leg throwing himself in front of a slap shot in game three against the Penguins, but stayed on the ice to finish his shift.
"That's the way I feel a team should be, nobody should be on a pedestal," said Bruins coach Claude Julien. "There's a lot of guys that you could easily put on a pedestal. Not only are they not put on a pedestal, they don't want to be put on a pedestal."