BUFFALO, N.Y. - The matchup is set for the NHL's biggest stage, the Stanley Cup Final. The Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks start their quest for the cup Wednesday at the United Center. The Bruins were the first to punch their ticket to the finals, after a four game sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Then, just a day later, the Blackhawks joined them last Saturday after a thrilling double overtime win against the Los Angeles Kings. Chicago took the series four games to one.
It seems the Bruins and Blackhawks fans aren't the only ones excited for this year's Stanley Cup Final. NBC's NHL analyst Pierre McGuire said, "Welcome to the Stanley Cup Final where there is no Cinderella. The two best teams are actually in the Stanley Cup Final...It's going to be a matchup galore, it's going to be coaching star power, player star power, awesome goaltending, physical confrontation, two electrifying building and cities - I can't wait. Can we go now?"
It hasn't been long since these two teams have felt the thrill of a Stanley Cup victory. Just three years ago, the Blackhawks took the cup against the Philadelphia Flyers. And just like Saturday night's game 5 against the Kings, it was Patrick Kane who scored the overtime goal in that 2010 Stanley Cup to win the series. Then just a year later, the Boston Bruins could call themselves champions after beating the Vancouver Canucks in seven games. Needless to say, these teams know a thing or two about the Stanley Cup Final.
As if the matchup didn't sound exciting enough, this year's Stanley Cup Final features two of the Original Six teams of the NHL. NBC's legendary NHL play by play voice Mike "Doc" Emrick said, "The thrill of Original Six for those of us that really like the history is one thing, but having the two best goals-against-averages and save percentages in these two goaltenders...and you throw in Original Six and wild fan bases that go over generations; this is going to be a thrill for us to just be a part of this and watch it all with you"
Now over to the game strategy side of things. Against Pittsburgh, Boston was able to shut down two of the top scorers in the league in Sydney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. NBC's NHL analyst Pierre McGuire told Two on Your Side's Stu Boyar how the Bruins were able to have such success against Crosby and Malkin "There were basically five guys who knew how to take away time and space from Crosby. Boston did a great job sealing the middle of the ice and Malkin didn't show up until the third game of the series. He had to play a lot of big minutes against Chara and that's not an easy thing to do. So Boston did a great job of taking away time and space and angling but it was key matchups."
But the Bruins now have another high powered offense in the Blackhawks. Chicago ranks second in the league with 3.1 goals per game. But there's one important thing Pierre McGuire told Stu Boyar the Bruins must do "If you're going to play against Chicago, you have to have a plan to eliminate Jonathan Toews. If you don't have a plan to eliminate Jonathan Toews, you have no chance of beating Chicago."
The series gets underway this week. You can see game one of the Stanley Cup final on NBC and WGRZ TV at 8pm Wednesday night.