The Road to the Cup

First off Congratulations to the Chicago Blackhawks for winning the franchises 5th Stanley Cup. Secondly, as a fan, thanks to the Boston Bruins for an amazing run. Both teams played amazing hockey while showing admirable courage, toughness, and grit. Both teams showed why there is nothing like the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

I can’t remember a team dominating from start to finish like the Blackhawks did this year. They started with an opening day 5-2 win in Los Angeles. Chicago started off the season recording a point in their first 24 games. The streak got so ridiculous ESPN even decided to talk about it. Chicago won the Presidents trophy and was the prohibitive favorite entering the playoffs. Winning the presidents trophy and the Stanley cup in the same season is pretty rare. The Rangers of last year and the Canucks of 2011 can attest to this. The Hawks season was dominance from start to finish.

The Bruins got off to a great start as well winning on opening night 3-1 against the “loaded” and “explosive” New York Rangers. Early in the season the Bruins looked poised to make another deep run and compete for a championship. In the middle of the lockout shortened season the Bruins hit a bump in the road and started blowing 3rd period leads which caused panic from everywhere except the locker room. The Bruins experienced a rough night when they lost to the Montreal Canadiens 6-5 in a shootout after entering the 3rd period winning 5-3. Losing to your arch rival and losing first place in the division in the same night wasn’t even the worst part. The Bruins had “acquired” Jarome Iginla from the Calgary Flames in exchange for Matt Bartkowski, a top prospect, and a 1st round pick. Bruins fans could go to sleep with a smile on their face thinking the Bruins acquired the top guy on the market. Iginla choose to play for Pittsburgh  and with all the moves they made, the Pens were the favorites to come out of the east. The Bruins ended up acquiring Jaromir Jagr who proved to be a solid add for the team.

The Bruins entered the playoffs as the 4 seed in the eastern conference. They had Toronto on the ropes up 3-1 in the first round and heading home for game 5. The Bruins found themselves trailing 4-1 in the middle of the third period in game 7. Horton, Lucic, and Bergeron all scored to send the game into overtime and Bergeron scored again to cap off an amazing comeback. The Bruins beat the Rangers in 5 games in the second round. Rookie defenders Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski had major impacts on the series. If Tuukka Rask didn’t fall on his butt in game 4 the Bruins would have swept the Rangers. Speaking of sweep the Bruins swept the Pittsburgh Penguins in the eastern conference finals. The Penguins were the 1 seed and were expected to win this series. The Bruins “Proved Iginla Wrong” on his choice to go to Pittsburgh. The Bruins run to the cup was something to remember and something fans will never forget.

The Blackhawks run wasn’t a cake walk. Their first round match up was against the Minnesota Wild who they took care of in 5 games. Like Boston should have been eliminated against Toronto, Chicago should have been eliminated against Detroit. The Hawks won the season series 4-0 and a lot of people expected their playoff series to be similar. Detroit was up 3-1 in the series and had Chicago on the ropes. Chicago showed championship fortitude when they came  back and beat Detroit in game 7 overtime on a Brent Seabrook goal. The Blackhawks were up against the defending champion Kings and the Kings were the team who many thought could beat the Blackhawks. The Hawks dethroned the Kings in 5 games led by a hat trick for Patrick Kane in game 5.

These two teams are about as even as you can get. Games 1,2,4,6 were all one goal games while games 3 and 5 were two goals games. Game one saw triple overtime, game two just one overtime. game four one more overtime. These two teams after six games were separated by two goals. Both teams had momentum in their favor but when it came down to it Chicago was a bit better when it mattered.

Chicago won the ultimate prize by winning the Stanley Cup in 6 games but Boston has nothing to be ashamed off. The better and healthier team won, its as simple as that folks. Both teams are set up for the future. Chicago has Toews, Kane, and Kieth while Boston has Rask, Seguin, Hamilton, Bergeron, and Krejci. I like both teams to make runs next year and compete into the future. My next few articles will talk about what I think the Hawks, Bruins, and a few other teams need to do for next year. With the draft, Compliance Buyouts, and free agency all set to begin the next couple of months will be very busy and entertaining.

Thanks for checking my work out folks. I am a new hockey writer and will continue to improve on my work. Half of my work will be about the Bruins and the other half will be about teams and players. For more of my opinions and ideas follow me on twitter @Brendan_McLean5.

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