Jonathan Toews

Playoffs Tonight: Bruins-Blackhawks – It’s finally time

26 Comments

Chicago Blackhawks host Boston Bruins (8:00 p.m. ET, NBC/Live Extra)

It begins tonight. Everything the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins have accomplished up to this point, every win, goal, save, and hit only matters to the extent that it got them this far. One of these teams will be immortalized as champions while the other will only be remembered as the final hurdle that had to be overcome.

We’ve had three off-days in a row and in that time these teams have been scrutinized from every angle, but if you just want the short version, Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews summed it up best:

“They have guys all over their lineup, top to bottom, role players, score goals all season, understand what it takes to win. They don’t have a lot of holes in their game. We feel like we’re the same team. It’s just going to come down to who wants it more.”

Both of these teams have won the Stanley Cup recently, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re desperate want to see their season end in triumph.

MORE: What are the big questions heading into tonight?

“The excitement is there,” Bruins coach Claude Julien told Boston Globe. “You’ve heard people say, ‘Once you’ve been there, you want to go back.’ It’s true, we really want to go back; we made it happen. We’re excited about it and we also know what kind of challenge lies ahead for us. It’s about acknowledging that and being ready for it.”

Plus there are players that are relatively new to their respective clubs or just weren’t able to contribute when the Blackhawks and Bruins previously won it all. Guys like Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford, who is getting ready for his first Stanley Cup finals game.

“I dreamed about it my whole life,” Crawford said. “Worked hard, so it’s nice to finally get there after all the work. But there’s still a lot to do so we’ve got to be ready.”

Then there is the other thing that’s at stake in this series: Consideration as a dynasty. By the end of this month, Boston will have either won two Cups in the span of three years, or Chicago will have claimed the prize twice in four seasons. While everyone will have their own feelings about what makes a genuine dynasty, that is at very least a big step in that direction.

It’s also incredibly impressive given the degree of parity in the modern NHL. Nine different teams have won the Stanley Cup over the previous nine seasons. One way or another, that streak will end.

Related:

Video: PHT Extra – Previewing the Stanley Cup finals

Bruins GM haunts Leafs over Rask trade details

Cam Neely, Peter Chiarelli
16 Comments

Boston’s road to the Stanley Cup finals was made possible in more ways than one by the Toronto Maple Leafs. Not only did they beat the Leafs in the first-round of the playoffs in seven games, starting goalie Tuukka Rask was a Leafs prospect at one time.

During today’s Media Day talks, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli was asked about the trade that brought Rask into the Bruins’ fold. His description of how trade talks went down won’t do anything to make Leafs fans feel better.

Chiarelli said the Bruins then interim GM Jeff Gorton did the deal with former Leafs GM John Ferguson, Jr. while Chiarelli was in the process of going to Boston from Ottawa.

Ferguson went to the Bruins desiring then B’s goalie Andrew Raycroft and offered up then Leafs prospect Jiri Tlusty for him. The Bruins insisted the trade be goalie-for-goalie and wanted Rask. On June 24, 2006 the deal was done: Rask for Raycroft straight up.

That sound you hear from Toronto are Leafs fans grinding their teeth over a poor trade from the old regime. To make matters worse, Raycroft was coming off his worst season with Boston and a year removed from winning the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year.

Turtle Wax Weekend Recap: ‘Hawks, Bruins punch tickets to Cup finals

BruinsBlackhawks

The Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins made history over the weekend.

By winning the Western and Eastern Conference finals, the ‘Hawks and Bruins set up a Stanley Cup finals featuring two of the league’s most storied franchises.

This matchup is the first Original Six battle since the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers met in the 1979 Stanley Cup finals.

So storied, yes.

But familiar? Nope.

These two have never faced each other for Lord Stanley’s Mug before.

The Bruins got there in the most improbable of fashions — sweeping the East’s No. 1 seed, the Pittsburgh Penguins, in four straight games. The Bruins did it on the strength of outstanding goaltending from Tuukka Rask, who only allowed two goals over the course of the series, and some timely scoring.

In Game 4, that timely scoring came from defenseman Adam McQuaid, who made just his second goal of this postseason one of the biggest of his career. His tally stood as the winning marker as Boston defeated Pittsburgh 1-0, putting the Bruins in their second Stanley Cup finals in the last three years.

Out West, the Blackhawks advanced to their second Cup finals appearance in four years as they dispatched of the defending champion Los Angeles Kings.

Chicago got a classic clutch performance from forward Patrick Kane, who scored a hat-trick in the 4-3 victory, scoring a beauty game-winner in double-overtime.

That set the stage for what should be a tremendous 2013 Stanley Cup finals — one that gets underway on Wednesday, June 12 on NBC.,

‘There’s no secrets’ between Bruins and Blackhawks

Pittsburgh Penguins v Boston Bruins - Game Three
8 Comments

As a result of that darn lockout, the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks have yet to play against each other in 2013.

That changes Wednesday, when the two teams meet in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final.

At times in these playoffs, both have made their respective successes look easy, although both were facing the abyss of elimination.

The Bruins were down three goals in Game 7 of the first round to the Toronto Maple Leafs, only to conjure a miraculous comeback before winning that series in overtime. They have since charged past their most recent opponents – the New York Rangers in the second round and the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference final.

The Blackhawks were down 3-1 to the Detroit Red Wings in the second round, but won the next three games to advance to the Western Conference final, where they dispatched the L.A. Kings in five games.

Just because they have yet to face each other this season, does not mean the two teams aren’t familiar with each other.

“I think all the information is out there for both teams to understand how we both play,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said, as per the Associated Press.

“There’s no secrets there. Again, like I said, it’s only the head to head, how the two teams are kind of going to clash, what’s going to happen when we do. It’s as simple as that.

“It’s about having confidence in what you plan on doing and going out there and executing it, that’s all you can do.”

Getting back to the Stanley Cup finals an ‘unbelievable’ feeling for Marchand, Bruins

Pittsburgh Penguins v Boston Bruins - Game Four
24 Comments

Love him or hate him, Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand has shown an ability to raise his game and take others off theirs late in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Take 2011, for example.

Against the Vancouver Canucks, Marchand scored twice and had three points in Game 7, which the Bruins won, giving them the Stanley Cup.

He was also partly responsible for completely disrupting the Sedins – Daniel and Henrik – as that series progressed in favor of the Bruins.

The Bruins are back to the final for the second time in three years, this time against the Chicago Blackhawks, the 2013 Presidents’ Trophy winners.

One Stanley Cup isn’t enough for Marchand.

“It’s an incredible feeling. I don’t think it’s ever one that you can really describe. I think it just gets better and better every time,” Marchand told CSNNE.com.

“It was unbelievable to win that first one [Stanley Cup], but being back in the Finals and having the opportunity to go after another one, it feels the exact same. We’re very excited.”