The last time that two “Original Six” teams squared off for the Stanley Cup finals was 1979, when Montreal took out the New York Rangers in six games. Two more will go at it starting on Wednesday in Chicago, when the Blackhawks host Boston in Game 1. Which team will come out on top in a seven-game NHL betting series featuring two of the last three Cup winners?
Series Preview: Boston Bruins @ Chicago Blackhawks
Odds: Blackhawks -150
The Bruins have been red-hot since being taken to seven games by Toronto in the first round, and almost losing that Game 7 seems to have woken up Boston, who is 8-1 since then (and their loss came in overtime against the Rangers). It isn’t all that surprising that the Bruins beat Pittsburgh, but Boston’s dominant sweep of the Penguins is probably the story of the playoffs so far. They allowed two goals in four games against the NHL’s highest-scoring team as Tuukka Rask was brilliant, and has been since the Toronto series, while David Krecji leads the league in playoff scoring, and the pair of Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand came on against the Penguins.
Chicago went through something similar in the second round as Detroit took a 3-1 lead in their series before the Blackhawks stormed back to take it in seven, and then they ended Los Angeles’ Cup title defense in five games, although all five games were decided by one or two goals. Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane all have 14 points apiece, Bryan Bickell isn’t far behind with 13, Jonathan Toews has been playing solid two-way hockey and providing leadership, and Duncan Keith has having a fantastic postseason despite having to serve a one-game suspension against the Kings for slashing Jeff Carter. But the key to their success may be Corey Crawford, who has been excellent between the pipes and that gives Chicago the confidence to push forward up the ice.
The Blackhawks are favored at -145 in their first-ever Stanley Cup meeting against the Bruins, and these two teams haven’t even met since October of 2011. These are two very well-rounded teams that can play any type of game, either wide-open or a defensive type, and they can roll multiple lines at you to wear you down. Both have proven that they can win on the big stage, they have plenty of leadership outside of their captains (Toews for Chicago, Zdeno Chara for Boston), not to mention, a pair of former Coach of the Year winners going at it in Boston’s Claude Julien and Chicago’s Joel Quenneville (who has been nominated for the award again this season).
However, Boston’s smothering style can be stifling when they score first and they’re a better defensive team that has the speed to track down Chicago. They have the brawn to bang with them as well. Also, Rask has looked incredible and while Crawford has been very good as well, Rask was lights out against the Penguins. In a hockey betting series that will go six or seven games, roll with the Bruins. They are offering good value.
Pick: Bruins +125