And then there were two. Boston versus Chicago. Original Six teams meeting in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1979. Bobby Orr played for both teams, but we all know who he will be rooting for in 2013.
It's kind of amazing how we got here. A month has passed since the Bruins Houdini act in Game 7 of the first round against Toronto, and perhaps that was what they needed - the brink of elimination - to rediscover their game. They are now hitting on all cylinders, playing at a higher level than at any point during the Claude Julien Era, including their 2011 run to the Cup. After dispatching the Rangers in 5 games, the Bruins faced a vaunted Pittsburgh team that was supposed to vanquish them with ease. It didn't happen. Starting with Tuukka Rask on out, the Bruins played a disciplined, cohesive, and error-free series against the Penguins, dismantling a team widely predicted to win the Cup.
Which brings us to the Blackhawks, winners of the President's Cup in 2013 as the best team in the regular season. Due to the shortened season the Bruins did not play any Western Conference teams this year, and have not played Chicago since October of 2011. The challenge will be immense. They have great speed and offensive prowess up front with skaters like Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, and Patrick Sharp. If you aren't familiar with Jonathan Toews' game prepare to be impressed. Toews plays with a two-way fervor we're used to seeing from Patrice Bergeron, except Toews is better than Bergeron. You'll see. And if you like Milan Lucic's style of play look out for Chicago power-forward Bryan Bickell, who plays a very similar style but is actually a bit bigger than Lucic. We have Zdeno Chara, they have Duncan Keith. We have Tuukka Rask, they have Corey Crawford. It's going to be a tight series.
This has all the potential to be an epic Stanley Cup Finals pitting two teams with very rich history and culture. What is your preference? Deep dish pizza or lobster rolls? Billy goats or Bambinos? Aerosmith or REO Speedwagon? Railroads or Clipper Ships? Goose Island or Sam Adams? St. Patrick's Day celebrations or, well, St. Patrick's Day celebrations? Two great American cities playing for the most famous and coveted trophy in all of sports. It begins on Wednesday.