NHL on NBC: It’s time for Hawks-Bruins rematch

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NBC continues its coverage of the 2013-14 campaign this afternoon when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Boston Bruins at United Center at 12:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

Roughly seven months ago Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland scored back-to-back goals for the Blackhawks in the span of 17 seconds to give Chicago a 3-2 lead over Boston with less than a minute remaining in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. That was the last turning point in a fierce series between two of the league’s finest squads in recent years.

Since then, the Bruins and Blackhawks have endured some turnover, as is inevitable in the salary cap era, but many of the players that made that series great are still on their respective squads. On top of that, neither team has succumb to a Stanley Cup hangover as they both lead their respective divisions.

That’s where we stand as they get ready for their first rematch since the Stanley Cup was raised.

“It’s going to be exciting to play these guys again,” Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith told CSN Chicago.

This is sure to be a hard fought battle, but not necessarily a controversial one.

“I would definitely say it’s different [than Vancouver],” said Bruins forward Milan Lucic, according to CSN New England. “There was so much more…I guess you could say, chippiness in the Vancouver series. The bad blood has still carried over as you could see in the last Vancouver game [last month].

“There isn’t as much talk of that headed into [Sunday]. We both know what’s on the line. I wouldn’t say there was any other series where there was a mutual respect [like with Chicago.]”

Chicago in particular isn’t known for pushing the rules as they have the second least penalty minutes per contest in the NHL.

The Blackhawks have been charged with just eight major penalties and no game misconducts in 2013-14. Boston is far more likely to drop the gloves on any given night, but they are another one of the six teams to get this far without a single game misconduct.

Instead, this game might be better to measure in terms of offense versus defense. Chicago is the league leader in goals per contest while the Bruins have the second lowest team GAA.

Both of these teams are still facing stiff competition and need every point they can get, but more than that, this is an important test for both of these squads. They each know what the other is capable of. The question is how they will respond.